A wrinkle in the neighborhood dinner

Here is a brief update on what is happening in my neighborhood.

First, the dinner with my Somali neighbors is postponed. My neighbor came by my house the other night and said the other man in the house would not be around tonight (out on a long-haul truck drive); could it be Saturday or Sunday instead?  Sure! So we are on for Saturday evening.

But there is more. The delay is a good thing. Here’s why…… a friend of mine who heard about my plan responded saying that my neighbor may have seemed hesitant about coming over due to his wondering if the beef on the burger would be “halal.”  Hmmm, this gives me pause.  I know about the no pork and no alcohol prohibition, and have heard of halal food before, but (in my eagerness to use the left-over hamburgers from our neighborhood gathering) I had not considered that my beef may not fit within the food restrictions of my invited family.

Sooooo,  on my evening walk, I stopped by their house and found the mama at home.  I asked if it is important to them, when they come for dinner (an invitation she had not yet heard about!), if the meat is halal.  “Yes, everything halal.”   Gasp, am I glad my friend suggested this, and am I glad I went and asked.  Then she added, “Lots of fruit is good.”  This was encouraging to me because I felt she was trying to help me get it right! (She was in my court).

I still have buns, ketchup, mustard, relish, and chips to use up. But I have to find halal ground beef (or “mincemeat” a la British vocabulary). I go online hoping there is such a thing as “halal mincemeat.” Whew, there is. But how to get it?   Again, I am blessed to see several halal meat and grocery stores within 20 minutes of my house.  I call one of them for day and hours of operation (I’m not assuming anything at this point).

Hazim answers (in English).  I have little ego by this time: “Hi there, I am not too familiar with the Muslim culture, but I have invited my Muslim neighbors over for dinner. Do you have halal mincemeat? (Yes, we do)  I’m emboldened: “I would like to learn more about how to host my neighbors for dinner. Could you give me some advice?” (Hazim: “Yes, of course; do you want to just talk on the phone now or can you come to my shop?”) Paydirt: “I will be at your store midday this Saturday. My name is Bob.”  (Hazim: “Let me give you my cell number so you can call me directly if needed.”)  Perfect. I have a mentor in hosting my neighbors!

Why do I write all of this?  First, to illustrate that we can take steps of friendship even when we have a lot to learn. Second, to realize there are people who are willing to help us. And third, to show that a bit of “humble pie” and asking for help is the best way to make a friendship with those who are of another culture.Tweet This

[by the way, meat is “halal”, meaning permissible, when it is prepared in the prescribed Islamic way. Here is a helpful article.]

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