Imagine this: You happen to find yourself dining in a non-halal restaurant with your non-muslim friends, and out of politeness you don’t want ask them to go somewhere else, so you sit and stare at the menu and figure out which item is the one that you would feel the least guilty of consuming – one that you would consider… safe. You strike out all the meat items, you strike out anything that could remotely contain rum, or alcohol in its cooking methods, and then you would probably end up with something along the lines of bread, salad, and very likely, french fries.
After all, french fries are just… potatoes, right?
I chose french fries for this week’s topic because I happened to stumble upon this video on my newsfeed. Watch the video on how fries are made, and read on & may we all grow in a appreciation and admiration for all the people that work behind every halal certification. (I’m cringing just by recalling the amount of paperwork involved per product..)
French fries isn’t just potatoes. The next time you are chowing down on those delicious fries, don’t just gobble it down. Take time, let it linger in your mouth, and savour its every taste. The moment you feel that it taste even remotely like beef (the most common animal fat used) – there was probably beef fat, essence of beef, beef marinade or even beef stock – in the oil that your delicious fries are fried in. And since we are on the subject – yes, they use pork and lard to flavour oil as well.
For added measure, I want to touch a bit on our choice of cooking oil. If its not halal-certified, and our non-muslim friend says, “eh! this one you fry french fries nice!!”… Now you know why? The animal essences has already been added into the oil and bottled up and placed on the supermarket shelves for you to purchase. As seen in the video, there is pre-frying done as well, before the french fries are being frozen. Commercially, after pre-frying (the non-halal bit has already been infused), the fries are then frozen, packed and brought to the super market shelves! Voila! Choose carefully! 😉
I can’t help myself from digressing: – I also want to touch a bit on the “No Pork No Lard” signals that we see quite a bit. Just think, for a moment. Even when us, as muslims, may not be too aware of the kinds of oils or kitchen essentials that we use, what more those that claim “No Pork No Lard”? I mean, yeah sure, as a shop, you may not have pork nor lard physically lying around in the shop. But what about your choice of oil? Your choice of frozen french fries then? There may be pork and lard already embedded in your oil and fries and perhaps any batter that you use? We aren’t too sure.
These flavourings are added into the oil to give the fries that distinct taste and unique flavour to the fries. That’s why one set of fries from one fast food joint will taste different from another. If everyone uses JUST POTATOES, then everything would taste the same, wouldn’t it? If animal essences are used, then these animal essences must be from halal sources. You may have a halal abattoir producing these items, or from another producer of animal flavourings that has attained halal certification. If not, then it deems the fries to be non-halal. And, also note that just because MacDonalds fries are halal in Singapore (thanks, MUIS!) it doesn’t mean that it’s halal everywhere else in the world. They may use different sources of ingredients as the ones they use here in Singapore.
Even when you’re in Amsterdam, where fries are EVERYWHERE, don’t take it for granted ok? Buy only from the halal muslim owned ones just to be extra sure of the food that you’re eating.