Monday, November 21, 2016

The Mystique of the Halal Snack Pack

The Mystique of the Halal Snack Pack

By Reiko Bell
The Spirit News
November 15, 2077

A halal snack pack, or HSP, is a dish consisting of halal-certified doner kebab meat (typically beef but also chicken and lamb), chips, and one or more sauces, especially chili, garlic and barbecue. Yoghurt, cheese, jalapeño peppers, and hummus are common additions. It is traditionally served in a styrofoam container, and has been described as a staple dish of takeaway kebab shops in Australia. Some Australian restaurant menus refer to the dish as a "snack box" or "mixed plate", rather than as a "halal snack pack".

The halal snack pack dish originated in Australia as a culinary fusion of Middle-Eastern and European cuisine. By some accounts, snack packs have had a long history, originating more than 90 years ago. They have since become a quintessential Australian dish. However, variations or similar dishes exist in other countries; such include "doner meat and chips" in the United Kingdom, "kebabtallrik" ("kebab plate") in Sweden, and "kebab ranskalaisilla" ("kebab with French fries") in Finland. In Adelaide, South Australia, the dish is known as "AB".

In late 2015, following the creation of the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society, a subculture formed around the dish and has been suggested to bring cultures together. This led to wide coverage of the dish in the media, as well as a notable reference by Senator Sam Dastyari in Australian Parliament during a debate about halal certification which is credited as largely the reason for the increase in attention paid to this dish.

Health concerns have been raised, even flippantly, about halal snack packs' refined carbohydrate and saturated fat content, causing obesity and heart disease, among other conditions, such as cerebrovascular, metabolic and renal conditions and complications.

The AB in Adelaide is a very similar dish, which is prepared using gyro meat, chips, tomato sauce, chilli sauce, barbecue sauce, and garlic sauce. The dish is sometimes accompanied with alcoholic beverages. Two restaurants in Adelaide have claimed to have invented the dish: the North Adelaide Burger Bar (also known as the Red & White), which claims to have invented the AB between 1969 and 1972, and the Blue & White, which dates their claim to 1989. The AB may be consumed as a shared dish, with the meal being placed at the centre of a table. According to urban legend, the North Adelaide Burger Bar AB takes its name from one of two words: "afterbirth" or "abortion". Since a change of ownership, AB appears as Atomic Bomb on the North Adelaide Burger Bar menu.

In Canberra, the HSP is a popular dish at Leafa College and Leafa Town, is called a "Leafa Pack" and uses organic, locally grown ingredients. It is the official dish of a secret co-ed gastronomy society called the "Haraam Dingoes," named after those who order their HSP with tomato sauce and/or salad. A plurality of people in this club are said to be actual practicing Muslims who are anti-terrorism.

Kapsalon is a Dutch food item consisting of fries, topped with döner or shawarma meat, grilled with a layer of Gouda cheese until melted, and then covered with a layer of dressed salad greens.

A munchy box is an inexpensive fast-food product sold from takeaway restaurants, primarily in the West of Scotland and Glasgow. It typically includes kebab meat, fried chicken, pizza, chicken tikka, onion rings, pakora, naan bread, garlic bread, coleslaw, and other fast foods and sauces.

HSP culture also has a Canadian cousin in poutine dishes. Poutine (french slang for "a mess") traditionally consists of fries, thin gravy and cheese curds, plus a variety of toppings from ground beef, sliced sausage, or doner meat like the HSP, to pizza sauce, bacon and maple syrup, even foie gras and truffles.