Monday, July 26, 2010

Halal French Cuisine: Gastronomic Integration by French Muslims

Chef Ali Bouaoune of Les Enfants Terribles restaurant has experimented to find halal alternatives to ingredients in traditional French cuisine. Julien Hekimian/Getty Images for The Globe and Mail

When I read this article, it seemed to say a lot that was relevant to part of the debate about "burqa ban" in France, and also about constructing a positive bi-cultural identity. While the article seems to emphasize that 3rd generation French of Maghrebi origin are "cultural Muslims" and want to eat halal as a mark of cultural identity, I suspect for some there is more religion to it as well. Certainly the idea that all are welcome to come and enjoy fine traditional French cuisine (la carte ie the menu) that is also halal for those who prefer it that way seems to me to be an exemplar of bi-cultural and interfaith co-habitation that functions well for individuals, collectives, and societies. The name, Les Enfants Terribles, strikes just the right tone of shared humour (linguistic and cultural)--sharing humour being highly salutary! Their home page seems to agree, Les Enfants Terribles.

Halal restaurants spark a new kind of French revolution
--For French Muslims, much of French cuisine was forbidden in their culture. But new efforts towards halal offerings in restaurants are changing that

Anita Elash

Paris — From Monday's Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Jul. 26, 2010 3:13AM EDT Last updated on Monday, Jul. 26, 2010 3:38AM EDT

Growing up Muslim in the immigrant suburbs of Paris had it challenges for Kamel Saidi. One of those was watching his friends eat traditional French dishes that he could never taste because they were forbidden by Muslim precepts.

“Ever since I was little I saw this. We'd go out to a restaurant and my friends would eat foie gras and magret de canard. But [those dishes] weren't halal, so we were always obliged to eat fish,” he says. “I grew up in France, I went to school in France, I consider myself more French than Algerian, and I was always disappointed I couldn't eat French food.”

Mr. Saidi, 32, finally had his first taste of both those dishes three years ago, when he and his brother Sofiane, 28, put their money where their taste buds were and opened the first halal restaurant in France to serve traditional French cuisine.

“I thought it was delicious,” he says of his first taste of certified halal duck breast, prepared with a crystallized mango sauce.

So do hundreds of hungry French Muslims. Dozens of restaurants have followed in their footsteps. The website, dedicated to promoting halal restaurants, lists 250 sit-down places serving only halal meat and no alcohol. As well as traditional Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, they include 26 French restaurants and dozens that serve Thai, Chinese, Italian and other international cuisines.

The rapid growth in halal restaurants in the Paris region is part of a trend that has swept France in the last few years, says Abbas Bendali, president of the market research firm Solis, which studies developments among minority populations. The typical customers are the grandchildren of Muslim immigrants who arrived in France in the 1950s to help rebuild the country after the Second World War. They tend to be cultural rather than religious Muslims and have embraced halal food as their “sign of identity.”

“You could see this as a sign that French Muslims are segregating themselves, but it actually shows that they are becoming more integrated,” he says. “Their country is France, they want to eat like the rest of France. But at the same time they want to hold on to part of their heritage.”

Les Enfants Terribles, is in one of Paris's Muslim neighbourhoods and is full most nights. It has done so well that the brothers opened a second location this spring, in a part of the city with a more mixed population.

Like most non-traditional halal establishments, Les Enfants Terribles does not put its halal designation on its signs or menu. Mr. Saidi says this is because he doesn't want to be seen as part of an exclusive community. He says he always tells non-Muslim customers when they arrive that he does not serve alcohol. Some have left in anger or because they preferred to have wine with their meal. Others “say it's no problem, but make us understand they are not comfortable here,” he says.

An even bigger challenge is in replicating traditional French dishes when many of the usual ingredients are forbidden.

“Our goal is to present a dish that is halal but which no French person could tell apart from the dish that he is used to,” Mr. Saidi says. “It's not always easy.”

He says Les Enfants Terribles will never serve some dishes, such as coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon, because there is no way to replicate the taste without using wine. On the drinks menu, the Saidis have opted for high-quality red, white and sparkling grape juice instead of non-alcoholic wine without any taste.

On the menu, smoked turkey easily stands in for bacon bits in the popular salade de l'ouest. The foie gras, which is usually prepared with cognac or armagnac, and blanquette de veau, which normally has a white-wine-based sauce, were a bit more challenging.

Mr. Saidi says chef Ali Bouaoune tried at least a dozen variations before finding the right combination of spices to replace the alcohol.

“We knew we'd found it when we asked a French friend to try it and he couldn't tell the difference,” he says, adding that he is most satisfied when he sees non-Muslim customers leave his restaurant satisfied.

“I feel like I've played a role,” he says.

“I give them good food in a nice place and I think I've helped to promote tolerance.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

Les Enfants Terribles in Paris has a halal menu, including magret de canard with mango sauce.
Julian Hekimian/Getty Images for The Globe and Mail

I would love to visit, right after I spend a day (or 2) at the exhibit of Saudi archeological finds, Routes d'Arabie: Archéologie et histoire du royaume d'Arabie saoudite au Musée du Louvre du 14-07-2010 au 27-09-2010 / Roads of Arabia - Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Louvre from 07-14-2010 to 09-27-2010. Oh to be in Paris...anytime!

What do you think about the ideas on acculturation expressed in the article?
Knowing how important wines are to the French, do you imagine many non-Muslims will visit?
How far along the culture-religion dyad is this restaurant in your opinion?
Would you dine there? Why or why not?
How do you explain the success of the restaurant?
Any other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

*Except where indicated, pictures were added by me from the website of Les Enfants Terribles


Arianna said...

Thanks, Chiara for yet another article on how Muslims really do not want to integrate and assimilate even after 3 generations.

Knowing how important wines are to the French, do you imagine many non-Muslims will visit?

No, they will not because, the whole idea is an insult, in the case of France, a super-insult because cooking with wines and spirits is part and parcel of world-renowned French cuisine. Any schoolchild knows that alcohol is dissipated during cooking and only the flavor is left. Educated people also know that every tissue of the body is perfused and kept healthy by blood. Therefore, the idea of halal or kosher butchering eliminating blood is simply untrue.

In my experience and that of friends and colleagues who have spent years in Islamic countries, it is a rare Muslim male who does not enjoy his whiskey. Conversely, we know Muslims in our community who will not even use isopropyl alcohol as a disinfectant. Those are the same people who keep their women locked up in their houses and sexualize little girls by making them put on the Islamic sack.

Would you dine there? Why or why not?

No, I would not because, it is an Islamic supremacist, separatist statement. We have a wonderful middle eastern restaurant in our region. The food is really superb. However, many people choose not to dine there because, they do not serve alcohol. Thus, the restaurant is hanging on by a thread. No one has a problem with anyone abstaining, but to force that unto others, in particular in a restaurant that is supposed to cater to the public, is simply not acceptable!

How do you explain the success of  the restaurant?

Lots of Muslims who have not become culturally French. The more popular these places become among Muslims the more nervous the French will become.

Any other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

The article states: ”The typical customers are the grandchildren of Muslim immigrants who arrived in France in the 1950s to help rebuild the country after the Second World War. They tend to be cultural rather than religious Muslims and have embraced halal food as their “sign of identity.”

“Cultural Muslims’ after three (3) generations? These people should by now be “culturally French.” Halal restaurants are clearly a way for them to keep themselves separate, apart and above. It says, “We are better than you are and we don’t want to mix with your kind and certainly do not want to eat your food because it is unclean.” Why is their “identity” not French? Yet another sign of Islamic supremacism and apartheid.

According to the Qur’an: "The food of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] is lawful for you as your food is lawful for them." Surah 5:5

If God made everything and all creatures, and it is all “good” then why are some creatures considered “unclean”? Why is it that religious or “cultural” Muslims and orthodox Jews do not eat so many things that many other “people of the book” do? Pork is eaten all around the world, by most of humanity, so are shellfish. The dog is literally man’s best friend and helper since we were living in caves. The pig is a clean, intelligent animal! Its meat is highly prized in countless dishes worldwide. In the modern world the dangers of trichinosis are non, existent. In fact, one is more likely to get parasites from fish or meats. It is the height of stupidity and ignorance to claim that dogs, shellfish and pigs are “unclean.” By that logic, man being and omnivore must be the most “unclean” animal of all.

Continued below:

Arianna said...

Continued from above:

Halal (thabiha or dhabiha) butchering, just like kosher (kashrut) butchering is very cruel and should be outlawed in the civilized world! This sort of ritual butchering has been described as inhumane by animal welfare organisations in the U.K. and the U.S.A., who have stated that it "causes severe suffering to animals."


"Halal killing may be banned". The Guardian (London).

"Halal and Kosher slaughter 'must end'". BBC News.

The claim that blood is a source of germs and other tissues are acceptable is so illogical and non-scientific as to be laughable. Blood is perfused throughout the body to all tissues, therefore, not only is “unclean” blood the vehicle for bacteria, but all tissues are. Additionally, one can NEVER remove all blood. Meats are red, because of blood.

As a consequence people who believe in halal or kosher should really be vegans if they want to avoid “germs” from animal products. Of course, they must also make sure that the fertilizers used on fruits and vegetables are not of animal origin. That means not even a bird, mammal, insect or a worm can poop into the earth where halal or kosher foods are grown. Everything that lives is recycled by the planet. Lots of non-halal, non-kosher animals die and fertilize the next generation. Simply put, by that logic perhaps these purists should simply stop eating? They should also stop using plastics and driving cars because, petroleum products are sourced from dinosaurs as well as dead prehistoric zooplankton and algae into which all sorts of creatures, scavenged, defecated, bled and ultimately died. ;)

How far along the culture-religion dyad is this restaurant in your opinion?

Not very. It is clearly an Islamic supremacist, apartheid statement, nothing more, nothing less.

We regularly have Muslim guests come to our community from overseas and all too many literally demand halal food and no alcohol to be served at parties and receptions given in their honor, with many other non-Muslim guests attending. Yet, they are in the country to learn about our ways on taxpayer dollars. They also demand that hosts get rid of their dogs. As you can imagine, this does not sit well with most people.

All too many Muslims seem to believe that they are more important than any other peoples on the planet, because the Qur’an tells them that they are “the best of peoples.” Therefore, they demand that non-Muslims must bend to their cultural/religious ways. Would you go to a Muslim or Jewish home and demand pork and liquor because consuming those are your custom?

What do you think about the ideas on acculturation expressed in the article?

Food and drink are the essence of life. Some cuisines are considered superior to others. French foods are arguably among the very best in the world.

There is no acculturation when people deliberately separate themselves from the “unclean” non-Muslims and their excellent foods and libations.

“You could see this as a sign that French Muslims are segregating themselves, but it actually shows that they are becoming more integrated,...Their country is France, they want to eat like the rest of France. But at the same time they want to hold on to part of their heritage.”

This is so much Islamic double talk. The “heritage” is one of 7th century ignorance and backwardness as well as Islamic supremacism.

Hypocrisy and ignorance thy name is religion and culture!

I am looking forward to today’s glorious French meal made with non-halal meats and exquisite wines. The dogs look forward to any leftover treats.

Santé! ;)

Qusay said...

I have been wanting to do posts about food and restaurants for a while now :) u beat me to it :)

good post, food... especially good food, transcends politics and religions and everything else, and brings people closer no matter what, that is my opinion at least.

Susanne said...

Nice post! I like the initiative of the young men who saw a market for certain products and did something about it!

Arianna said...

Rather than integration this is Haute Apartheid, an Islamic supremacist statement that real French food is not good enough for even third generation “cultural” Muslims. In Arab/Muslim culture, hospitality especially food and drink are very important. It is a grave insult to refuse the offerings of one’s hosts. The same holds true in almost any culture. These Muslims are clearly refusing the culture and hospitality of France, a culture which is renowned, worldwide for producing extraordinary food and drink. These “cultural Muslims” make it clear that they want food that is Islamic, rather than French.

On perusing the menu of “Les Enfants Terrible” I found it interesting that, these “cultural Muslims” don’t seem to have a problem with placing factory farmed beef, lamb, chicken or veal on the menu, as well as environmentally unsound farmed salmon, never mind foie gras, from “cruelly” raised, force-fed ducks. Given the prices I would bet that all of these offerings are from non-organic, factory farms for animals, vegetables and fruits.

Muslim halal food is all superior, no matter how the creatures are treated in life, as long as it’s “non-cruel”, clean, sharia sanctioned halal butchered, which BTW is now using modern western stunning (at least in the UK) prior to clean halal butchering. ;)

In this video French people explain their objections to these “separate and non-equal” practices that serve to divide people rather than bring them together:

Row over halal fast food menu in France

Is it any wonder that the French are accusing the Islamic community of deliberately not integrating and wanting to Islamize France instead of respecting the culture and laws of their adopted land?

Anthrogeek10 said...

What do you think about the ideas on acculturation expressed in the article?

I like it. It shows that French food can be adapted to religious requirements but only to a certain extent. Wine is intregal to the French culture and it does add many layers of flavor to a dish that really cannot be replaced from other products, in my personal view.

Knowing how important wines are to the French, do you imagine many non-Muslims will visit?

Not many but I still hope they can be a success. I think that they should have the option for people to drink wine with the meal but I understand the reasoning for not doing it. Cooking with wine will not get these people many Muslim customers I gather. :) All in all, I see nothing wrong with having a fine dining experience for Muslims.

How far along the culture-religion dyad is this restaurant in your opinion?

I do not believe, like the first person who commented here that this is a "Islamist supremist" statement. This is simply a way for Muslims to have a "safe" dining experience in the country.

Would you dine there? Why or why not?

I dunno. I am not a meat eater anyhow, so I would not fit well in France in general. No...only due to the lack of vino. :P Did I just say that? Fine dining calls for vino.

How do you explain the success of the restaurant?

Large Muslim market for it?

Any other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

To critique someone else's belief structure, like the first person who made a comment, is ethnocentric and shows a lack of understanding. What we do not understand, we fear....


oby said...

OK...I will admit it...I discovered my #1 favorite, to die for, if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life food in Paris...

CousCous made with merguez and a healthy dab of Harissa!

Yummmmm Yummmmm! Killer good if done right.

oby said...

What do you think about the ideas on acculturation expressed in the article?

I am not sure EXACTLY how I see it but at first blush I don't really see it as any different than any other restaurant that has it's own cultural twist. Perhaps similar to a kosher deli. I think that they are trying, within the framework of what they can do to "be French" and by recreating the recipes to be halal are not really rejecting France...similar to someone trying to adapt a recipe to be low cal to accommodate a diet.

Knowing how important wines are to the French, do you imagine many non-Muslims will visit?

Well I certainly would as I don't drink very much so the alcohol thing is a non issue for me. But I think for the French why would they go to a place like this when they can get the "real" thing at any number of restaurants...except perhaps to be curious as to the culinary skills of the chef in his ability to recreate the famous French recipes? I was engaged to a Frenchman at one time and,honey, they take their food SERIOUSLY. As he once said to me when I dared serve him a lesser cut of meat (we were damn broke students at the time). "I am FRENCH and I will never allow lack of money to affect my cuisine. I'd rather not eat" or something like that...okey can starve on principal, but me? I'm hungry. LOL!!

How far along the culture-religion dyad is this restaurant in your opinion?

Could you put that into plain English please? Just kidding...
Hmmm...good question. I think they are closely related. If not there would be no need to call it halal and adapt the recipes.

Would you dine there? Why or why not?

Yes I would but to be honest, if I am going to eat "french" food it would not be my restaurant of choice. I too would rather go for the real thing. But I think it can serve a niche market and in that allow Muslims to maintain their dietary habits AND indulge in their "frenchness" by eating French classics.

As I have no dietary restrictions in terms of how an animal should be slaughtered I am free to eat anywhere.

How do you explain the success of the restaurant?

I guess that there are a lot of Muslims who want to eat their native (french) dishes and have now found a way to do both. That says to me that they are not looking to reject French food at all.

Any other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

The only thing I think that they could do is offer alcohol for those non Muslims who might want it. By banning it they are limiting their market and IMO being a bit rigid.They can still be halal or harem if the Muslims don't drink it. They are around people and wine all the time in their lives whether they partake or not. I understand it is their restaurant and they can do as they choose, but by not offering it I do think it gives them a sort of separation or "otherness" that they wouldn't ordinarily have, especially in a country like France where wine is an identity of sorts...I remember the pinot noir I bought die for!

Anthrogeek10 said...

Good comments Oby.
I just had an idea--BYO wine! :) That way, they would not have to have dealings with it but allow for a more diverse customer base.

Susanne said...

I enjoyed the comments. One thing I recall from Syria...some Muslims wouldn't even go to cafés where alcohol was sold. So I can see why these French Muslims wouldn't sell wine. I think there is something about supporting people who offer haram things and if these guys want to keep their restaurant halal, they won't want to start serving alcohol.

Chiara said...

First, thank you all for the comments. 2 that were sent recently (one of them duplicated, making a total of 3) have not been published as they are more personal attacks with some substance.

I don't think of this blog as a "forum" but rather a blog that is a growing community of readers, blurkers, and commentators who are welcome to disagree with the substance of the posts, my comments, or anyone else's as long as it is done respectfully and on topic. That includes being respectful of both individuals and groups as is indicated in the commenting policy which can be read in full on the commenting page.

In other words, attacking the WHATNOTS as a group is no better that attacking Mr or Ms Whatnot.

So please, if you need, to read or re-read the commenting policy and then please do comment and re-comment! :)

Chiara said...

Arianna--thanks for your detailed comments here and on the Afghanistan post, and welcome to my blog. As you are aware I am sure, your comments are a combination of substantive discussion and rather one-sided attacks on groups, and so just made it into the approved for posting category.

Regarding your comments here, obviously we disagree, and even read differently what would seem to be rather straightfoward aspects of the article.

I do think the article is clear that the originators and main patrons of the restaurant are French Parisians of North African descent and Muslim heritage. It seems clear as well that many are "cultural Muslims" in the way that others are "cultural Jews" or "cultural Christians". In that sense they observe aspects of their religion or the cultural customs tied to it, and so prefer to eat halal, and either are happy to forego alcohol or don't drink themselves.

As I don't drink and never have, I am happy to envisage French meals without wine or other alcohol. Halal or kosher butchered meat or not is the same to me, but I appreciate that it is not for others and respect that. I see no contradiction in wanting to dine on traditional French cuisine prepared with halal meat(s).

It is a little off topic but I don't believe that halal or kosher butchers claim to draw off every bit of blood, but rather that their method of butchering results in a faster and more thorough bleeding of the animal. It is debatable whether stunning animals is more "humane" but in any case in England, not France, Muslims has accepted the practice to comply with the British slaughter laws, and since it doesn't impact on whether the meat is halal or not.

Since the restaurant is open to all patrons, regardless of religion, or degree of observance, it is hard to conceive of it as Islamicist, supremacist or effecting some sort of apartheid.

I am curious as to what region (widely defined, eg North America, Western Europe, etc) you live in that affords you the experiences you describe. The Muslims I know have a wide range of observance or not. None has a problem with dining together. Some observe halal eating practices, some just cut the alcohol and pork out, others don't even do that. Their fundamental belief in the shahada or the 1st pillar of Islam and renewal of that is what makes them Muslims no matter what else is going on, or not.

As I said in the post, I think this restaurant sounds great, not the least because it offers skilled preparation of French cuisine, but then again I have a fantasy that come Thanksgiving I will invite all my friends and family and have 3 turkeys--one halal, one kosher, and one ecumenical. I find the idea of the 3 of them on platters down the centre of the table hilarious, yet an appropriate accomodation for the range of religious dietary practices among my fantasy guests. Boxing Day brunch is another big interfaith fantasy! :)

Thanks again for your comments. :)

Chiara said...

Qusay--Hmmmm, I thought you got to cuisine first with your chocolaterie post! No matter, I'm glad you liked this one, and I look forward to yours!

I am planning one on Saudi cuisine...oops! shouldn't have tipped you off! LOL :) Or maybe I'll do a bait and switch and explore the cross-cultural underpinnings of the "crêpe bretonne ā la farine sarrasine", or the "galette sarrasine" for short. :)

I agree fully that food can be a great bond, and good food more so. You may be familiar with an Arabic expression a Jordanian student taught me about the bond that is created by sharing food, "sharing bread and salt". I see this as very true generally though more overtly expressed in some cultures than in others.

Thanks for you comment, and bon appétit! :)

Chiara said...

Susanne--Thanks for both your comments. I agree that it was nice to see these young men seize the day so to speak. In fact, usually the 3rd generation is sufficiently acculturated and also has a better economic base thanks to their parents and grandparents to launch such a venture. I'm glad it has been successful enough to have 2 restaurants both in trendy arrondissments of Paris, sort of one on each side of the Bastille! :)

I agree that many Muslims who prefer not to drink alcohol, also prefer not to go where it is served, especially if they have the option. As a non-drinker this is nice for me too, since sometimes the evening can get boring for those who are not as "bien arrosé" (haven't imbibed) as the others--though I usually get sillier than my companions just because of the jokes.

Thanks again for your comments! :)

Chiara said...

Anthrogeek--thanks for both your comments. As a food professional, I was wondering your thoughts on this.

I certainly appreciate that for some the French wine (you were suggesting Italian or Spanish I hope!!! LOL :)) accompanying a French dinner is a necessary element and part of enhancing the food experiences. There probably are some recipes that cannot be imitated without the actual wine, but they seem to be doing a carefull job, and not all traditional French recipes are prepared with alcohol. Trying to eliminate butter and cream from French cooking from Lyon on north would be more of a challenge.

The issue of cooking with alcohol and the fact that the ETOH itself is burned off doesn't seem to mitigate the fact that it was there for the Muslims who do observe this practice of not taking alcohol internally (medicines are allowed though, if no substitutes available, as is external medicinal use of alcohol, eg as a wound disinfectant). On the occasions where I am cooking for those who are more strict about alcohol, I have learned to be more careful about ingredients and hidden ones, eg the alcohol in mince meat preserves, or in cakes. Fortunately my Italian grandmother taught us to substitute vinaigre and water for wine in savoury dishes.

Not sure that BYOB would be "halal" or "kosher", not to mention the corkage fee in a Parisian restaurant! :)

Thanks again for your comments!

Chiara said...

Oby--LOL :) someone else who discovered North African cuisine in the cluster of Tunisian restaurants on the Left Bank! :) Indeed, harissa needs to be used carefully, but maybe Indian cooking has you better prepared for fiery ingredients! :)

If you asked your French fiancé if he were hungry, would he look at the time before knowing the answer? Enquiring minds want to know! LOL :)

I agree that this restaurant seems similar in its adaptations of different cultural and religious expectations to others. Actually this is far more traditional than fusion cuisine, and less of a hybrid than Tex-Mex, or Cali-Italian.

By cultural-religious dyad I meant that culture and religion are distinct but often so blended as to be confused, and that there is at least a hypothetical spectrum along which one could situate this restaurant. I guess I would put in in the middle space of the spectrum rather than at either extreme though the customers could situate themselves anywhere.

Thanks again for your comments, and anecdotes.

Chiara said...

Thanks again to all, and I hope you will re-commment and others will comment too. I found the commments here inspired another post, which I have had fun drafting--but it is still rather drafty. In the mean time, carry on commenting on this one! :)

Anthrogeek10 said...

Hope we can agree to disagree about the vinegar as a vino replacement. :) Wine is complex. If wine tastes like good. :)

Anyhow, yeah...I would eat there knowing it was safe from pork, which i abstain from (all red meat as well).


Chiara said...

Anthrogeek--certainly we may agree to disagree on that. The idea is only in an emergency and watered down so the taste is more vin than aigre. :)

I'm glad you may find your way to Les Enfants Terribles after all! :)

Thanks for the follow-up.

Delux said...

That place sounds very interesting, if I were to visit France I would definitely go.

In response to the first comment, there are plenty of reasons besides Islam that lots of people do not want to drink; it sounds like that restaurant provides a nice alternative for them as well.

Wendy said...

Just reading this now. I understand that some French are up in arms over the Halal restaurants which is quite ridiculous but what can one say about the French! :) I go to Halal restaurants in Vancouver but most of them are offering more Middle Eastern menus and this is why we go. I do enjoy wine with my dinner and prefer to be able to go to restaurants that serve wine and you sure can find those in Morocco and other Muslim countries. Morocco has a wine industry so what does that say. Other than my Saudi/Sudanese family most Muslims I know do enjoy the odd alcoholic drink. One thing I do know as far as serving alcohol and Islam are concerned is that if you occupation involves serving alcohol you can certainly do so.
Good for the boys for finding their niche! There are many people who don't drink so I think that's not the issue. There are many French dishes that do not involve alcohol AND .... French cooking has been evolving and there is a trend to less butter, less fat, etc. so trimming the alcohol might not be as bad as one would think.
More posts on food, Chiara!!!

Chiara said...

Delux--thank you for your comment! I agree, that this sounds both like a good French restaurant and a viable alternative for non-Muslims who prefer a non-drinking atmosphere.

In fact, some recovering alcoholics would probably be grateful not to be led into temptation.

Thanks again for your comment!

Wendy--glad you liked the post and you seem to have a very balanced view. Indeed, the French seem to be all aflutter these days, and generally food is a sacred topic.

Morocco does have a wine and spirits industry, and it is easy to be served alcohol there. During Ramadan they will serve only non-Muslims (they ball park religion by "race" or "face" :) ) or to Muslims if it is in a discreet place eg. the back terrace looking over the ocean of a hotel with access only from the the front street.

True about the evolution of French cooking, and also certain regional cuisines are less dairy based.

I hear you, about the more cooking posts. You must participate in the upcoming one that is deliberately participatory! :)

Chiara said...

Arianna-I haven't published your last 3 comments, as I think they repeated substantive points you made before, and also ones about how you view Islam which was already clear. I'm sorry you feel that I have been "censoring" comments with a bias towards Islamicism, and in a manner comparable with state censorship in the most closed societies.

I think of it as good blog moderating so that all feel welcome and can safely share even dissenting views. I very rarely reject a comment and I always acknowledge having done so as I am doing now. Most people don't mind. You too are free to comment on other posts as long as you are more respectful of a range of views.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about French cuisine but I am getting the feeling that wine is of utmost importance. Using grape juice is quite innovative in my opinion.

The idea that this is an insult to the French and an example of Islamic supremacist feelings is pretty ludicrous. Should I interpret restaurants in the Muslim world serving alcoholic drinks (yes, they do exist) an example of Western supremacist tendencies? Or should I use it as an example for the obvious demand for alcohol in said restaurants?

In Britain, Halal restaurants and fast food joints are everywhere, with even popular, non-Muslim owned chains having Halal food. Many of the Muslim owned ones are alcohol free zones and it seems no-one has a problem with it. The few that do have a problem, simply don't go to such restaurants, opting for ones that serve alcohol instead - simple!

The idea that being totally alcohol free is solely a Muslim concept is a fallacy - being teetotal for social reasons is an established concept in Anglo-Saxon cultures (not sure about continental ones) and there are other belief systems that also forbid their followers from consuming alcohol.

Anonymous said...

My previous post was a bit rushed, and I didn't actually address the article properly, so here goes:

What do you think about the ideas on acculturation expressed in the article?
I think it's interesting and novel. Whether it's seen as integration or separatism depends on your perspective on immigration and multiculturalism. As in all capitalist societies, consumers will decided in the end whether this is a good or bad idea - nothing else (I had to add this - I am an economist after all). Not serving alcohol may or may not alienate 'French' French customers and that could make a difference between whether such restaurants are financially viable or not. As much as we can argue about the merits of such ideas, in the end it's money that talks loudest.

Knowing how important wines are to the French, do you imagine many non-Muslims will visit?
I think some may go to try it out and may end up liking it - I can't imagine wine being of the utmost importance to EVERY SINGLE Frenchman/woman.

How far along the culture-religion dyad is this restaurant in your opinion?
Having met a lot of French Maghrebis last week, I think the evidence is hugely biased in favour of it being a cultural thing. In Britain, I think there's more of a religious tint to it.

Would you dine there? Why or why not?
Absolutely. At the moment, the presence of alcohol would put me off trying French cuisine (though Arianna may have a point when she said that no Alcohol remains once the dish is cooked). Having a Halal version means that French food is now accessible to lots of other people, including me.

Chiara said...

Majed--check your email thanks! :)

Majed said...

So far as the alcohol is concerned there are different views in islam about it, varying from moderate to very strict, whereas some drink it but hesitantly and with a pinch and sting of guilt, taking the benefit of doubt and indecisiveness in the sense of Allah not using the direct and decisive banning words that are usually used in Quran when prohibiting something(only God knows the wisdom behind it) and also the conflicting narrations or ahadith from The prophet (pbuh)'s life. On the other, hand the vast majority of muslims take precaution of the doubt and indecisiveness to stay on the safe side and chose to avoid it. They prefer to follow and consider the more acceptable narrations that damn the one who drinks it, or brings it, or sells it, or purchases it, or makes it. I personally don't like to take benefit of the doubt in anything other than judging people.

And to those who rank the French cusine so high i say taste is relative thing; it differs from one person and other i only agree so far as the french pastry is concerned. Otherwise it has more do with advertisement and exhibition than taste.

Chiara said...

Arianna--I have decided not to publish your last 3 comments. I have read each of them very carefully a number of times, to be sure I was being fair to you. In essence, the substantive aspects of your comments are overridden by your use of inflammatory terminology and a derisive tone, towards other commentators, and towards myself. That is not in keeping with the commenting policy here.

There are other blogs where such comments would be welcome as engendering more equally inflammatory and derisive comments. That is not true here.

You are not blocked. You may comment within the guidelines and your comments will be approved. I think if you have read enough posts and comments you will recognize that I am happy to have opposing or alternative views. If not, check any post with "niqab" in it, and see how Wendy and Countrygirl disagree. They do it well.

I am sorry for the effort you put into your comments. I can't post them as written though.


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