Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where To Eat?

Some of my ex-classmates and I were trying to arrange some dinner get together via mass emails this week. In between the usual teasings there were R-rated jokes about pinafore, school uniforms that look like Sailor Moon uniforms, black/lacy bras and asking: "Do you prefer your women with or without bras?" (We are all about asking the important questions) – we managed to agree on a place and time for dinner.

All plans went out the window when a Muslim friend asked for restaurant with halal certification. We are back to Square One on where to go, what to do.

In a nutshell, halal certification means the food served at an establishment has to be prepared in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. For example, pork is strictly forbidden, and there are strict rituals involved in the slaughter of the animals for food.

Some people think vegetarian food = halal, because no meat or lard is involved. However, sometimes wine or alcohol may be used in the cooking, and so it is not safe to assume all vegetarian dishes are suitable for Muslims.

A friend very kindly googled the Malay Muslim restaurants around town. She thought there will definitely be some vegetables for me. Unfortunately, most restaurants here focus on meat dishes. With Asian cuisines, often there will be some shrimp paste, fish paste or chicken/fish stock involved.

Trying to find a place that can cater for a group with a Muslim, a vegetarian, and a fatty meat-loving lawyer is almost impossible. Somehow we keep trying though, because there is a genuine fondness between us. It seems incredible, that we first knew each other when we were 16. Sixteen years later we are still friends who try our best to meet up at least once a year. We try to catch up (who's married, with children, engaged, single, finally came out of the closet.) Not forgetting of course the exchange of barbed insults.

Still, I have no idea where we are going for dinner.

Right now the meat-loving lawyer is making snide remarks about the Muslim and the vegetarian. He just wants thick slab of red meat with lots of fat on it. I am usually indifferent to people who cook and consume meat in front of me. But even I think his meaty diet is gross.


Ana S. said...

"Trying to find a place that can cater for a group with a Muslim, a vegetarian, and a fatty meat-loving lawyer is almost impossible. Somehow we keep trying though, because there is a genuine fondness between us."

That is a wonderful thing :)

One thing I wish is that I had more old friends. I have lost touch with almost everyone I grew up with.

darkorpheus said...

Virgina Woolf wrote this:

"Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death... others through sheer inability to cross the street."

I have some friends left from my past, but a lot more I have allowed to drift away because of just this "sheer inability to cross the street" -- because I did not make an effort.

Anonymous said...

it seems amazing that you guys were friends once, considering how each of your paths have diverged (or how divergent each of your paths are?).

what i find funny, and this may not apply to you, but when we're younger we're all for people being individual etc. like, go ahead, be a punk, or a hippy, or a corporate lawyer. but as we grow up those avenues we chose really do define us more and more. and it can make it hard to stay friends.

i really can't imagine where you guys are going to eat! its hilarious. although, i do sympathise with your difficult search.

but nevermind the restaurant - i wish i could be a fly on the wall watching all these different people meet up! its really like some tv drama!

i hope you'll be reporting back with lots of juicy details! :)

darkorpheus said...

Jean Pierre Actually, when I look back, we have certain rules on the people we choose to be friends with.

Like: does this people swear a lot, how well he/she do in school, is he/she a Christian etc. But like you said: as we grow older, the delineation of "What's Us" versus "What's Them" becomes more pronounced.

But for these group of old classmates, we are quite a diverse bunch. Not everyone gets along, of course. Among us there's:
1) the obnoxious fatty-meat-devouring lawyer who is Christian, volunteers at church
2) a Mormon, who will not be joining us as she's about to pop
3) a Muslim man who can out-gossip all the women
4) an agnostic vegetarian yogini with Buddhist inclinations who still drinks moderately and swears alot.
5) A psychologist who works with children with special needs, but who questions all religions. She is the most highly educated amongst us, but she earns the least.
6) An installation artist who teach art to pay the bills. I have no idea what his art is about.
7) A flamboyant gay man who is still in the closet, even though most of us already know and we still love him.
8) The most mischievious girl in class who grew up to become a stern discipline schoolmistress (the irony!)
9) The most clueless girl in class who grew up to become a very successful investment banker -- but she left the bank to become a school teacher instead -- because she did not like the person she had become. And she checks her email once every 3 months
10) An somewhat oblivious architect who is now in Dresden bringing up her first son.
11) The prettiest girl in class who married a high-flying civil servant and who is now living the high life in Bangkok. With her cat. Oh, and the husband, of course.

precious said...

hmm. according to this, breeks is halal. i didn't know that. and they have a couple of salads. but maybe you're looking for more.
if u have a look-see here, u might find something familiar to u that's also halal, possibly - if u are still looking for a place, that is.

darkorpheus said...

precious Thanks, but Breeks is not vegetarian-friendly. I have studied their menu many times with non-vegetarian friends.

After a while, I've decided I am no longer going to be the little vegetarian who has to sit in a corner (without complaint), eating the sad, tasteless salad that is the sole dish on the menu without meat.

I have a right to enjoy my food too. I refuse to be apologetic for being a vegetarian -- because I had enough people scolding me for being one.

If anyone has a problem with that, we will not break bread together. That's all.

purplefugue said...

This is interesting...I would love to know where you all end up. Halal and vegetarian friendly, huh? I don't suppose Original Sin is halal, is it??

darkorpheus said...

Kisane Actually, that was one of the places I thought of. But my Muslim friend needs the reassurance of a halal-certification, and I don't recall Original Sins as "halal-certified." I also suspect they might use alcohol in the cooking, so we're skipping it.

Right now, plans are to gather at VivoCity this Friday.