The much-hyped, soon-to-open Breslin restaurant, situated in the 12-story Ace Hotel on Broadway and 29th, is giving members of the Masjid Ar-Rahman mosque across the street some agita. "Five times a day, there's a hundred cabs on the street--the good news is you can always get a cab," co-owner Ken Friedman told the Transom the other evening. He said some mosque visitors "object to seeing people drink alcohol."
After the recent FergusStock, a festival during which famed British chef Fergus Henderson cooked whole pigs for a rapt crowd of New York chefs and foodies, Mr. Friedman said the mosque's leaders called a meeting with the hotel. "They said, 'Can you move the bar?'" he said. "And I laughed. And the guy said, 'Oh, you think that's funny?' And I said, 'Yeah, that is funny, that is really funny, because we're not going to move the bar just because you discovered we're serving booze.' Can you name one restaurant in New York that doesn't serve booze?"
Mr. Friedman and his partner, Spotted Pig chef April Bloomfield, did agree to nix plans for a dive bar in a townhouse next door, but as for the restaurant, "I said, 'This is the United States of America and we'll do whatever the fuck we want.'" He said the mosque had suggested it couldn't control the behavior of "a few bad eggs"; i.e., "we could get a brick through our window." Mr. Friedman said he made the police aware of this threat.
If you move to a country that is 98% "kuffar" STFU is all I have to say. As Muslims like to remind us there are 1.5 billion of them, but despite being adherents of the One True Religion countries dominated by Muslims tend to kind of suck-ass. Therefore, they queue up to immigrate to countries where the majority is non-Muslim. But they expect to carry on as usual, as evident by some Muslim cab drivers refusing to pick up those who've had alcohol, or people with seeing eye dogs (because Muslims consider dogs unclean, though this is true of Hindus too last I checked).
This dovetails with the issues I pointed to in "On Offense". Muslims, and for that matter Mormons, many Hindus, etc., would naturally find inebriation with alcohol offensive and disrespectful, especially around a religious center. If a Mongolian beef establishment opened up across from a Hindu temple I think one might wonder as to the sensitivity of this sort of behavior as well. But how many sets of norms can we accommodate before we go get bogged down in norm tracking? In much of India Hindus and Muslims avoid consumption of pork and beef as a form of reciprocal sensitivity* (though I think this is easy in part because so many Hindu elites are vegetarian, period). I understand where food taboos come from, it is taboo to eat dolphin or dog in the United States. But any given society needs to have some semblance of restraint and common norms on boundaries, or we'll become like those Hasidic Jewish sects where people are vegetarian because they don't trust anyone to be properly kosher. A whole society of Hasidic Jews is not viable.
Note: Some Europeans find Muslim animal sacrifice and male circumcision offensive. Of course Muslim react naturally with their catchall accusation of Islamophobia, and haven't had to modify their own practices yet.
* One thing I never understood about this is why Muslims would care that non-Muslims ate pork. Unlike Hindus Muslims don't venerate the pig.
If god didn't want us to eat pork, then why did he make pigs so delicious?
Pig is really a magical animal, being an efficient source of animal protein and calories, much more so than the insipid cow. Not to mention them providing us with such diverse and tasty victuals such as bacon, ham, sausages, ribs, and pork chops. I don't think there is any other meat that has as diverse array of tastes and textures all derived from a single animal. Yum.
one thing i have to give the chinese a lot of props for is that they don't have the moronic superstition grounded food taboos of hindus, muslims and jews. i do think food taboos are naturally and even if irrational not too big of an issue. the problem with superstition grounded food taboos is that there's a lot of bizarre one-up-man-ship. so some high caste brahmins won't eat a lot of types vegetables now. hasidic jews become vegetarian. muslims argue about food additives which might have a resemblance to pig stomach enzymes. and of course there's the irrational non-scientific fear of contagion which jews, hindus and muslims sometimes engage in (i.e., refuse to use utensils which might have touched meat X, etc.).
all that being said, the chinese should stop eating cats. that's not cool.
Razib, Muslims don't like other people eating pork because of the generally missionary mentality of the religion. In the ideal world, everyone else would be Muslim and not eating pork.
There may be an additional element. If one has a strong taboo of something, even if you don't think the taboo should apply to other people, it is often cognitively unpleasant to watch other people breaking the taboo.
joshua, sure. but in india i realized it's probably just an evening of the debt. hindus "repay" muslims, even if muslims don't attach as much value to the food taboo for everyone as hindus do. in the middle east christians do eat pork and drink alcohol i think. well, in countries where muslims allow christians :-) though some of the more nuttie muzzies do start imposing islamic norms on non-muslims.
"chinese a lot of props for is that they don't have the moronic superstition grounded food taboos"
I do wonder why chinese are so different in this regard?
The only explanation I've heard is were couldn't afford to pass up any source of protein with their paltry diet of rice -- but tons of starved people living in lousy conditions hold fast to their taboos.
deadpost, yeah. but the same was operative in india too. though food taboos in india are to a great extent a sign of status and income, low caste and tribal people did/do even eat beef (hindus in kerala eat beef too). though there are economic arguments that not eating beef is rational because milk is a much better long term source of sustenance. that's not a issue that crops up in china because there weren't many milked animals. even the utilization of water buffalo in south china declined as it became densely populated because human labor inputs became more plentiful.
one argument about food taboos has to do with pathogen load and hygiene. europeans didn't have much in the way of food taboos either. the banning of horse consumption in slavic countries was simply tactical, as it was associated with pagan offerings during the early phases of christianization.
I can understand food taboos, since there are many foods that seem disgusting to me. I don't eat meat at all. But the Muslims seem to have something against live pigs as well as eating pork. And what have they got against dogs? They especially hate black dogs, apparently.
Puppies and piglets are very cute and appealing. There is something unnatural about having rule against touching cute, furry things. (Taboos about spiders or snakes I could understand.) Maybe if Muslims woman kept little dogs, and used up some of their maternal instinct caring for the dogs, they might not feel compelled to have 15 babies, and the Muslim countries wouldn't be in such bad shape.
> There is something unnatural about having rule against touching cute, furry things.
It might sometimes be partly about giving people a stupid rule just to see who will break it and who will follow it.
re: dogs, in many parts of the world most dogs are "pariah dogs." not cute & cudly. from what i have read the fashion for pet dogs in the west is relatively recent too. though nobility and such have long had dogs. they're useful for hunting. but for a poor peasant, there's gonna be more marginal calories to feed it.
Christians can be pretty stupid too: http://www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/4163
"Signatories include Canon Andrew Nunn, sub dean of Southwark Cathedral, who writes: "The glorification of horror and the concept of suffering as entertainment make these places a scandal.
"If people choose to pay money to be 'entertained' in this way that is up to them. But those of us with more taste or different moral and ethical standards should not have to be confronted with it.
"I am particularly concerned for those coming to Southwark Cathedral through the underpass from Tooley Street to Montague Close where this is becoming a particular problem.""
Or this in my native Poland: http://www.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idUSTRE57C46920090813
(Well OK, Poland is the Iran of Europe.)
wont eat spiders but will calmly eat lobsters?
wont eat dogs but will eat deer?
wont eat an owl but will eat a pheasant?
india (or, if u prefer, hindus) have cultural likes and dislikes about food just the same as they have about cutlery and morning ablutions and bathing rituals.
maybe some of these can be understood as cultural constructs rather than "moronic superstitious food taboos" .. really how does the value judgement aid the understanding ?
>It might sometimes be partly about giving people a stupid rule just to see who will break it and who will follow it.
See Mormons and coffee.
I've found the horsemeat taboo in the US kind of amusing. There's some politicians in Texas who are really promoting the ban on selling horsemeat. Why?
My issue with that is how is killing and eating a horse any different from killing and eating a pig? Or a cow?
For the most part, I think the US taboos deal more with companion animals (and vermin, too). But I'm not familiar with the historical argument for/against horsemeat.
Food taboos occur for various reasons. It is a mistake to suggest that the "validity" of the taboo be rooted in scientific reasoning. I can, however, use valid science to provide valid reasoning for pork taboos in Islam and Judaism. Whether or not this reasoning is valid everywhere is another matter; inasmuch as Khan is an Indian/Pakistani name, at least in origin, I cannot say that the reasoning I provide would be valid on the subcontinent. It is certainly valid in SW Asia and in N Africa from the Horn westward.
Porcine animals use a lot of water. They also produce waste that is toxic to land. Drought is a very real concern in Afrasia even today, never mind in Biblical times. On this matter I would urge you to treat the Bible as history, not as literature, especially in translations such as the King James Version. The best translation in English is by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, G!d Rest his righteous soul.
With respect to dogs, Razib is quite correct. Domesticated dogs as pets are quite recent and evolved from N European farms keeping dogs, who are very territorial and this reliable to guard against other dogs -- in this case wolves. This is one of the reasons that Belgian shepherds, German shepherds, and Arctic breeds such as Samoyeds are so similar to both wolves and each other.
Being a Canadian, I am quite familiar with domesticated wolves. This most often happens if the wolf breeds with a domesticated dog such as a Samoyed. This hybrid is massive and gorgeous. As a child I had a purebred Samoyed named Snowball who was so large, without any wolf at all, that he could pull a small sled with both me and my sister in it.
RE: Food Taboos
You all seem to be forgetting what might be the biggest reason for food taboos: group cohesion. *We* don't eat $animal, only those people-who-are-barely-people-because-they aren't-us eat $animal. I would imagine a lot of religious and cultural customs are there simply as an artificial mechanism for group bonding. They let you identify other group members, make the other folks look bad and make your group look more pious for following those rules. Not drinking coffee lets Mormons feel all smug and superior to their non-Mormon colleagues.
I don't drink alcohol, simply because my family did so so very rarely that it was not something I consider a normal activity. So I get to feel all superior to the drinkers. Sure, I can claim it's because alcoholism is on both sides of my family. Or because I was such a nerd that I never hung out with the cool kids who got drunk on the weekends, but realistically it has become a way for me to be smug and morally superior. Same as other cultures or religions. :)
When it comes to cultural food types, it is mainly simply what you are used to. I wouldn't eat honeyed locusts or horse because I didn't grow up in a culture that did. Nor would I eat horse, cat, dog, lamb or guinea pig as I've had all of them as pets. In fact, one of the reasons my mother stopped raising chickens for food was because my brother and I started naming them. Killing, cleaning, and de-feathering also played a factor. Plucking a chicken is not a fun way to spend time and if you've ever missed a couple of feathers and smelled them burning in the oven it is not something you want to repeat. ;)
In America, the bias against eating things like squirrel, possum, raccoon, and other "varmints" is based on class/caste. Those animals are only eaten by "hillbillies", "rednecks", or whatever you want to call people on the lower end of the rural economic scale. See Beverly Hillbillies for examples of humor built on this.
prasad, i guarantee you that if you eat dog meat in public in the united states you might get insulted, but you won't get killed. that's what i call not moronic.
If anyone ever tells you that religion isn't fucking up humanity, they're lying.
Regarding your claim about vegetarianism. I'd be very surprised if any substantial number of chassidim were doing that. Do you mean charedim? Charedi- ultra-orthodox. Not the same thing as chassidic which is a subset. I'd be surprised to hear charedim doing that also but not as surprised.
In general, the ultra-orthodox perceive vegetarianism as something that those horrible Modern Orthodox or (gasp) Reform Jews do (in their mind pretty much anyone who isn't shomer shabbat is Reform). I'd be very surprised if you can find almost any ultra-orthodox Jews who have become vegetarian.
no, i mean hassidic. i know the difference. looking for the reference now.
>"...dogs, in many parts of the world most dogs are "pariah dogs." not cute & cuddly."
But they are still dogs and therefore capable of great loyalty and affection towards humans. Some American soldiers have befriended dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in some cases have brought them back to America. See "Operation Baghdad Pup" for stories about the rescue of some of these so-called pariah dogs.
Telling people they can't keep dogs!
Islam is truly an unpleasant religion.
joshua, i retract the assertion about vegetarianism provisionally. can't confirm through a cite right now, and don't have time to look a lot longer.
This is a wonderful example of integration into the American melting pot. These muslims have only been in New York a few years and already they're whining, complaining, and threatening to sue the pants off anyone and everyone.
"prasad, i guarantee you that if you eat dog meat in public in the united states you might get insulted, but you won't get killed. that's what i call not moronic"
Beef is publicly eaten in the Indian states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. No one gets killed. Pork is consumed in Indonesia.
These are the countries I am familiar with. Of course, these are hindu and muslim majority countries and your perspective/ knowledge, coming from a christian (or, if u prefer, "protestant") majority country, is necessarily different. I do buy your argument that we can have way too much norm tracking in the name of a multi cultural society.
But there can be far too little of it too, as evidenced in your argument that minorities should STFU. Surely there are more nuances possible, as shown e.g. by Britain
If your religion tells you not to eat animal x, I have a great solution for you: Don't eat it!
Religions in general are really pushy about trying to get everyone else to follow their in-religion rules. Especially people outside of their religion.
Religious superstition is unfortunately present in so many popular belief systems. In many states for example liquor cannot be purchased on Sundays.
Wow so this is a scienceblog?
I think it is definitely unreasonable for the Mosque to ask others to refrain.
But there are sound reasons for the prohibition on consumption of swine meat. The pig does not have functional sweat glands and pretty much eats anything, including its own. Now there are certain toxins present in food/envirnment which we and most animals sweat off, yet in pigs this is not the case. In fact there has been quite a few recalls of swine products in Europe due to dioxin levels.
As a muslim you are allowed to keep dogs only if there is a need for them ie you are a farmer or blind. At least you can say Muslims are not contributing to the puppy mill industry and ergo euthnizations of millions of dogs per year.
"Religions in general are really pushy about trying to get everyone else to follow their in-religion rules. Especially people outside of their religion."
Note that this is not what this situation is about...it's not that they don't want people to eat pork, it's that they don't want to see other people eat pork. It still amounts to being whiney babies, of course, but it is much less offensive than religious nuts who DO want everyone to believe and behave as they do, or claim to.
Making up rational reasons for ancient food taboos is a fun parlor game, but is kind of beside the point. Today the function is clearly social cohesion and exclusionism, or you believe magical/irrational things about food. Harder to explain are the taboos like insects vs. crustaceans--these are cultural, but do not seem to have rational, religious, or social bases.
100 years ago lobster was servants food and some household servants would even stipulate limits to how much lobster they could be served in their contracts.
I don't know what the catalyst for the change was.
But there are sound reasons
you can always construct reasons post facto. i invite you go to look at hindu nationalist websites for a full panoply of reasons. the question is the cost vs. the benefit. if you have a religious taboo, cost vs. benefit is not an issue, so really the reasons aren't the primary point, it's the religious injunction. which to some extent is all that different from non-religious taboos. the main issue as evident in hindu, muslim and jewish food taboos is that when these taboos become religious they tend to be subject to "bidding wars" and get more and more extreme. muslims are least restrained so far from what i know among the three classes noted, though it really is retarded when somali checkout clerks at target won't *touch* bologna slice packages.
I don't know what the catalyst for the change was.
Attitudes towards seafood in Britain changed when pollution and overharvesting made specific types of food scarce.
Oysters and lobsters, which were once so plentiful that they were considered the food of the poor, became valuable commodities once they became rarer. It has nothing to do with the quality of the food, and everything to do with perceived status.
You think common sense would lead muslim immigrants to the conclusion that if they succeed in making everyone in the US/Germany/UK wherever follow the same laws they had back in Pakistan or Egypt than very soon the US/Germany/UK will become just like the shithole they just left. Either they really don't get the connection between economic growth and culture (likely), or they don't care because they figure they'll find a way to be on top of the shithole.