Saturday, July 24, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Difficult Dinners

Having dinner with Malaysian friends can be tough because of food taboos.

As a rule of thumb:

* Muslims don't eat pork and want to have meat that's Halal (killed according to certain rituals).
* Hindus don't eat beef.
* Many Hindus who eat meat regularly, are vegetarian on Tuesdays and Fridays. (Well, actually most often this applies to the ladies but many of the men don't bother, unless they are eating with their female relatives.)
* There are many Buddhists/Taoists who don't eat beef.
* There are many Hindus and Buddhists who are vegetarian or vegan.

And to think I used to have difficulty cooking for friends who eat Kosher!

Anyway, because it's all so darn complicated, cooking for a dinner party can be a minefield. Having had some difficult experiences, I was particularly worried when we were married. It was about 6 months after our arrival in Kuching, Sarawak, and we had invited about 40 guests.

I solved it by catering to everyone. I cooked vegan and veggy food, chicken, fish, pork and beef dishes, and labeled everything clearly so that everyone knew what was what.

It was a lot of work but it was worth it. It was a great party and we had a blast. And remembering that day, I have to say: I miss my friends in Kuching!


Brian said...

Sounds like you are getting along quite nicely!

Katnip Lounge said...

Sheesh! What a dining minefield. I'm lucky, at my house my palate is the only one that matters (LOL!) as my hubby cooks whatever I ask. All I have to do is the clean up. It's a fair trade, I think!

Elin said...

We Muslims definitely can't eat pork, and MUST eat the Halal's. =)

Lorenza said...

Difficult but you found the way to make it perfect!
Happy weekend!
Kisses and hugs

gitu-gitu aje said...

that's the beauty of Malaysia.
Great job you got a way to make every guest satisfy!

Kitikata-san said...

LOL! Indeed, you get to show your cooking abilities with so many diverse friends :)

Neri said...

i think your'e a gem for being so considerate :)

Angel Simba said...

Quite a minefiled as you say. Can you "solve" it by just serving vegan, or vegan + a chicken option? (Must the chickens also be killed a certain way for Halal's? ) Makes things you can offer more limited for sure.

BeadedTail said...

All those taboos do sound like they make for difficult dinners but your solution was perfect!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

You've always been such a wonderful hostess and friend, Ellen! I really enjoyed the vegetarian quiche and potato salad you and Tom made! Thanks ever so much!

Naddy said...