I only eat chicken and rice…Not

I often meet people who immediately assume that when I say “I only eat halal food,” it must mean I only eat chicken and rice. Well, that is not the case.

I assure you, halal food is more than chicken and rice. Even when it’s the mouth watering entree in silver packaging sold on 53rd and 6th.

I don’t actually stand on lines three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner for grilled chicken, lamb or beef chunks sidled with yellow or brown rice, then drizzled with mystery white sauce, hot sauce or the occasional barbecue sauce and a sparing array of salad on the side. If I did, I’d choose different carts each time, and vary even then by day. They do say that variety is the spice of life.

But, really now.

In reality, halal just mean lawful in the sense that the meat was blessed with an Islamic prayer before slaughter. So all I’m saying is that when I’m out and about, I’m often limited to the carts or must choose from vegetarian or seafood options at restaurants not serving meat from a halal butcher shop.

As long as it is, I indulge in practically the same dishes as everyone else, but mostly at home. Home is where the halal is. My mom prepares Bengali meals, like biryani, and American ones, like steak and mashed potatoes, on any given day. So relax guys, I’m not quite so deprived, just particular.

I wish I could explain this one once and for all—because I have, often—but the misunderstanding continues. Sigh.

In fact, I asked a few friends about their perceptions of halal food just so you readers didn’t think this was all based on conjecture. And my, oh my, did most of them basically prove my assessment:

I asked, what is halal food? These were my friends’ well meaning responses:

“It’s chicken and rice. With white sauce,” said Alex Mikoulianitch

“What do you mean? I’m not understanding your question,” said Anas M. Uddin.

“Middle Eastern dishes,” said Brian Gottesman

(And then a light at the end of the tunnel)

“Halal food, to me is the meat, and it has to be prepared a certain way, and has to be blessed,” said David Ospino.

(But wait, there’s more)

“I guess, chicken and rice, and salad,” said Nakeisha Campbell

“The Arabic version of kosher food. And shish kebabs,” said Gizelle Lugo.

Close. But still, sigh.

It’s frustrating to say the least. But I’m confident that as New Yorkers, people will catch up. We understand what kosher is, right?

For instance, Dovilas Bukauskas said, “I think halal is just for meat. I think kosher is for everything.”

So, the concept isn’t completely out of our scope. But little does it matter in the foodie scheme of things when both the vendors and their hungry customers are happy. Especially around Baruch, where there are close to 5 halal food carts/trucks in something of a two block radius and chicken and rice reigns supreme.

My Egyptian buddy agrees, posing for the camera, then jokingly saying, “Now you pay for the photo.”

This halal food vendor by 25th and Lexington serves long lines of Baruch students everyday. At noon on this day, the lunch line is just beginning to form.

$5 dollars for a chicken and rice = halal food misnomer? “Ha-ha.” Certainly not.

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4 Responses to I only eat chicken and rice…Not

  1. Interesting post Sabrina, Halal food has its moments, though I’m afraid it’s not my thing. My body has a habit of punishing me for a nice order of something from there carts, anything more than a salad from them tends to be a bad day for me. But I can definitely respect your frustration. Good quotes as well, they were funny.

  2. I love your friends’ responses. This is enlightening, well-written and informative. Thanks for setting things straight so the rest of us can avoid sounding ignorant!

  3. This is similar to my post on Japanese food. I feel as if people get used to one type of food from a certain culture’s cuisine and do not take the time to learn about or try other dishes.

  4. Diana says:

    Even though i do not eat halal food, I do understand your point Sabrina. I think that people should inform themselves more about the food they eat and its culture. Is time poeple stop being so ignorant and think before they talk, they should know exactly what it is they are talking about.

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