A concoction of meat, chips, cheese and sauce in a styrofoam container has become an unlikely social media phenomenon, sending revenue at some takeaway shops – and cholesterol counts – through the roof.
The halaal snack pack has long been a staple of Australian takeaway shops, if a little overshadowed by the kebab. But a Facebook page dedicated to the delicacy, the Halaal Snack Pack Appreciation Society, has attracted nearly 90 000 members since December – and tens of thousands in the past month alone.
Its founder, Luke Eagles, says the group is about “sharing great snack pack stories and discussing [the] … best snack pack in world”, with members rating their meals on greeting, signage, packaging and taste.
They also police the rules for ordering a proper snack pack: transgressors risk banishment and being conferred with the title “Haram Dingo”, signalling a kind of stubborn “whiteness” that no amount of shredded meat can overcome.
One shop, Metro One in Ashfield in Sydney’s inner west, has seen revenue climb more than 75% since it was featured in the group as serving one of the city’s finest snack packs.
The society’s membership is a mix of Muslims and non-Muslims, who uniformly refer to each other as “brothers and sisters”.
Muslim members of the group have helpfully provided a glossary of Islamic and Arabic terms that members are encouraged to use in reviewing their culinary experiences.
The warm, somewhat wry embrace of a takeaway food explicitly billed as halaal is at odds with the way Islamic religious certification is often portrayed by the Australian media and in politics, as something shady or alien to Australian tastes.
Last year a Liberal senator channelled discontent around halaal certification in right-wing circles to secure an inquiry into the $13-billion industry, prompting a fierce debate about Islamophobia that relented somewhat once a range of government agencies asserted that was “no link” between the Islamic certification and terrorism. – © Guardian News & Media 2016