22 July, 2008

Muslims, Halal and Benebene

Benebene Canary Wharf
Saw an amazing thing the other day while I was standing in Benebene (waiting for my Chicken Satay Ciabatta to be griddled)...four young Muslim girls came walking into the store (dressed in Chadors and all wearing slightly tired/resigned looking expressions on their faces) cautiously nosing around the various goodies and exchanging quiet words with one another when suddenly the guy behind the counter spotted them and shouted over the ambient chatter "It's all Halal ladies, the chicken - everything" (as he tucked someone's baked potato and cheese into a flimsy plastic carrier bag and flung it towards them over the counter with a practised hand)...they stopped what they were doing and looked over at him (packets of nearly chosen cold vegetable couscous in shiny plastic containers limply dangling from hands), one of them finally managing an incredulous "Everything?" with a frown of disbelief on her face..."Yes, everything is Halal"...

The transformation was staggering, they practically jumped for joy(!), eyes suddenly lit up, they clutched at each others hands (couscous falling back into 'fridge forgotten) and pulled themselves as a wide-eyed, knee-trembling assembly around the store, pointing and shrieking - the pedestrian process of finding something (anything) they were allowed to eat for lunch had been transformed into the mental equivalent of a free trolley dash in Tiffany and Co!

I couldn't help but laugh as I watched them literally behave like (and I apologise in advance for the Americanism) "kids in a candy store"... :)

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