Growing up in the UK in the late 70s and 80s, it was almost impossible to get fast food that was halal. Definitely not like what it is today.
Back in the day, we lived in many different places when I was growing up, but I consider Bath to be my where I struck my roots.
As a kid you don’t really remember many things that were not within your immediate scope of experience. Everything was taken care of by your parents, and that is something I have go to remember again with my own children. Sometimes I expect them to be aware more of what is going on around them, but when I remember my own childhood, all we knew was we did what our parents told us, moved where they moved, went where they went etc.
Anyway, I’m rambling.
Back to what I was saying, It was literally impossible to get fast food, and all we could do was just imagine how the burgers would taste. Fries or chips was not too much of an issue because we were able to eat Fish and Chips, especially from Evans in the middle of town after Dad took me for Friday prayers. But burgers and hot dogs. They were the real mystery. But we never spent too much time lusting after them because, well, Mum took care of the cooking, and there was always food for us, no matter how humble it was.
We came back to Malaysia at the end of 1988, leaving Dad there for another 3 (or was it 6?) months to finish up writing his PhD. Those were hard times, but that is another story.
The very first time I stepped into a fast food outlet was when I was 12 years old. I remember it so very clearly. It was an A & W in Jalan TAR, very near what was then Globe Silk Store. I was with my sister Sameerah, and my brother Ammar, and of course Dad.
I remember as we walked in how fascinating everything inside looked, so clean and so white, with black and white photos on the walls. As we approached the counter, I did not dare to dream that we were actually there, and that we could afford to eat there (I was always under the impression that we were poor, but that is for another story).
It was like I was in a dream.
The very first item I ever, ever ate in a fast food restaurant was a Coney Dog. And oh how delicious it tasted.
I savoured every bite. The way it looked, the way it tasted, the aftertaste. It was divine.
I looked and my sister and brother, and I could see the looks of satisfaction on their faces.
Fast forward to today, I see the relish and satisfaction my children have when they eat their own fast food. My children love fast food, though as a good parent, I don’t take them there too often. But as a treat, and perhaps when my wife is too tired to cook, that seems to be the solution.
But I wonder if they will ever feel sense of ultimate pleasure of wondering all their lives about how something would taste, and one day to be able to eat it. My children and I grew up with different privileges , and different senses of entitlement and expectations.
Whatever it is, thanks Dad, for giving us such a wonderful treat, all those many, many years ago.