09 Juli 2011


I had my first food fiasco last week. I had a course in Delft and we (the course participants and organizers) went for dinner downtown. Naturally they offered a three-course meal: beef carpaccio for starter, fish for main course, and meringue and ice cream for dessert. I had already had a few bites of my carpaccio when a waiter approached me and told me there were sprinkled bacon bits on the carpaccio. I had no choice but to spit the chews in my mouth and asked for a change (salad!). And it got worse. The sauce for the meringue/ice cream had alcohol on it, so they had to make a special one without sauce for me.


The thing is, I could, and should ask for non-beef starter even though they did not offer it. A cute facultative-veggie Indian friend of mine did that. And of course I should ask whether they had alcohol on the sauce.

In my defense, they did insure me that it was beef. And meringue and ice cream seemed quite harmless. I didn't want to look picky. I didn't want that me practicing my belief look like a burden for me as well as for others.

I had my fair share of guilt. Not always halal chicken or beef. Tonic with vodka. Wine in various dishes. Gelatine and rhum in various desserts and pastries. E-numbers. Partly just guilt. Partly guilt with "it's not a sin if you don't know" defense. Partly because there was no fish and the vegan dish looked very unnerving. Partly because trying to be polite, and not picky, and not look like a strict, close-minded, believer. But as far as I remember, this was the first time I actually had bacon in my mouth. And the scene!

It makes me realize that it's no use being careless about belief. Alright, Islam. Some people respect you, some people don't. Deal with it. For those who don't, it does little help that you, say, have a pint or two with them. For those who do, it certainly no use that you're being careless and eating the wrong food. The scene it causes is far worse than asking lots of question to the waiter before ordering (they have to deal with vegans and allergic people anyway). Trying to be casual, non-strict and open-minded does not equal being careless.

Another moral lesson of the day is that da'wah, the preaching of Islam, today should not be about persuading people to convert to Islam. That's still far, far ahead. I don't even think that we have to do that anyway, but that's a discussion for another day. Just, showing people what Islam really is. That's already a very difficult task to do, what with right wing politicians and extremists on both sides of muslim community.

And sadly it's not only in Europe, but also applied in the country with biggest muslim population in the world :(

Now... I want beef carpaccio. Too bad my roommate doesn't eat red meat :P

PS: at least it wasn't as haram as this one :D

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