The halal revolution

IT’S the dish Pauline Hanson refuses to eat.

The halal snack pack; a multicultural fusion of doner meat, chips, cheese and sauces to terrify any purist (foodie or racial).

The online Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society now boasts 162,665 members on Facebook and is growing by thousands every week, its popularity soaring since Labor senator Sam Dastyari, a non-practising Muslim, started raving about them earlier this year.

When he invited Ms Hanson out for a HSP in Western Sydney following her election, she baulked.

Invented in Sydney about 30 years back (or 50, depending on various claims), many Perth kebaberies seem a bit shy about its name, sticking to the less political “meat box”.

But walk into Habib’s Kebabs in Freo and mention HSP, and the brothers know instantly what you’re after.

• This Chook’s first halal experience.

• This Chook’s first halal experience.

Holy trinity

“We do anything you want, we do cheese, we do the holy trinity,” the chef proudly claims, referring to the purists’ choice of sauces; chilli, barbeque and garlic.

The HSP appreciation society deems anyone ordering tomato sauce or salad in their pack a “haram dingo”, haram being Arabic for forbidden.

Habib’s chef says the dish had boomed locally, while over east it’s reportedly surpassing kebab sales in some restaurants.

Food’s long been tied to politics, race and class.

Lobsters were once the preserve of poor servants or prisoners and were seen as a gross ocean bug.

The name even comes from the old English “loppestre,” a corruption of locust.

“Lobster shells about a house are looked upon as signs of poverty and degradation,” John J. Rowan wrote in 1876.

In the Pacific Standard article How lobster got fancy, Daniel Luzer says it was embarrassing for kids to go to school with sandwiches full of lobster meat during the Depression.

Rationed

It was one of the few meats not rationed in World War II, and people got a taste for it. Demand grew, numbers shrank, and the cost skyrocketed.

The HSP fits neatly into this timeline of food as politics. Among the members of the HSPAS, eating the dish is a declaration of solidarity with Middle Easterners and Muslims, and a statement against the anti-halal scare campaign trumpeted by right-wingers.

It’s also incredibly tasty, making it a very palatable way to fly your anti-bigotry.

Habib’s HSP has meat piled high on top of chips and cheese for $14.50; a generous stack of tender cuts of lamb, beef and chicken.

Along with Habib’s Kebabs, places around Perth universally regarded as worthy among the HSPASers include Perth Kebab Station in Subi (though it’s so well regarded the lines can be long), Alladin’s in Morley or Five Star Kebabs on Horrie Miller Drive.

by DAVID BELL

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