‘White Sauce, Hot Sauce’ celebrates New York’s halal street vendors

A still from the film "White Sauce, Hot Sauce." (Supplied)
Updated 24 December 2018

‘White Sauce, Hot Sauce’ celebrates New York’s halal street vendors

  • A new short documentary in Arabic, co-directed by Egyptian New Yorker Salah Anwar, serves up two of their stories and allows people to go deeper into the lives of those serving these curbside plates
  • The New York Times estimated that there are 10,000 halal food carts in the city, mostly run by immigrants, many of whom come from Egypt

NEW YORK: If you’re on the streets of New York City, you’ll probably notice the long lines in front of small outdoor food carts. If the aroma doesn’t catch your attention, the blasting of bombastic Arabic music might. The New York Times estimated that there are 10,000 halal food carts in the city, mostly run by immigrants, many of whom come from Egypt. A new short documentary in Arabic, co-directed by Egyptian New Yorker Salah Anwar, serves up two of their stories and allows people to go deeper into the lives of those serving these curbside plates.




Salah Anwar. (Owise Abuzaid)

The title refers to the phrase vendors shout when someone places an order: “White sauce, hot sauce?” Many of these vendors don’t speak much English and rushed New Yorkers don’t really have time to chat anyway. The secret sauces are just as much a staple as the meats themselves, offering flavorful puddles in which to mix with the fluffy rice and tender meat. The plates themselves are conveniently divided into compartments, reminiscent of the frozen dinner plates made popular in the 1950s in the US. People eat their food in covered boxes with disposable forks while standing up, or at their offices. It even carries well on train rides home.

The halal street carts are now seen as quintessentially “New York.” But halal is also, of course, a religious term referring to the way the meat is prepared. The food carts are 100 percent Muslim-run. because the word “halal” refers to the way in which the meat is prepared, a religious practice.

New York City has a strong street-vendor culture. The Food Vendor Project says that there are around 20,000 street vendors in the city — meaning, according to the NYT figures above, that about half of them run halal food carts, offering quick and economic options for busy residents and tourists alike. These vendors stand or sit for long hours in tiny cubicles on the sidewalks, in the rain, snow or summer heat. For just a few dollars, you can be well fed for a fraction of the cost of an eat-in restaurant.

The halal food vendor in NYC is one of the longest-running success stories of Muslim Egyptian immigrants who came to the city to feed both New Yorkers and their American Dream. This short film is in Arabic, with English subtitles, allowing the men who pull these carts to speak about their experience in their own words, perhaps for the first time.

The filmmakers visit one of the vendors at his home, to meet his wife and young children and hear how America changed his life for the better. The second vendor talks fondly about the hustle of the city and how he feeds all kinds of people and never judges any of them. These stories show Muslims who keep their heads down and try to feed more than stomachs. But, the film asks at the end, why are some Americans — particularly President Trump and his ardent supporters — judging them?


The film, Anwar told Arab News, “depicts an immigrant narrative full of heartbreak and hardship in a country that welcomes only bits and pieces of their traditions while leaving others stuck in a game of political tug-of-war.”

“There’s something about that authentic voice, having them speak in their first language,” Anwar said.

Both Anwar and co-director Mark Ibragimov said that it was essential to tell the vendors’ stories in their native tongue:




Mark Ibragimov. (Angel Chevrestt)

“I tried approaching them in English and knew right away it wouldn’t work that way,” said Ibragimov. “The purpose of the film is to bring it to people who might be seeing these vendors every day, but never really know them in ‘a day in the life’ kind of way. To be able to do it in the viewpoints of two different men in the same position, but living two different lifestyles, shows that not every single person that is working on the carts lives the same type of lifestyle. You have somebody who made somthing for himself, and you have somebody who has nobody here and is just seeing this as something to pay the bills.”

This film, like that six-dollar plate of halal meat over rice with “white sauce, hot sauce” feeds minds and the American Dream.


Bella Hadid shares heartfelt message for Eid

The star extended warm wishes to her followers. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2020

Bella Hadid shares heartfelt message for Eid

  • Bella Hadid said that this holiday season was always special to her as a child

DUBAI: Part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid took a trip down memory lane on Instagram on Sunday to reflect on her Eid memories with her family.

The star extended warm wishes to her followers and said that this holiday season was always special to her as a child.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

“I remember the beauty of Ramadan, and fasting with my father and my Teta when I was young. Eid was so special for me, to be able to celebrate together,” she wrote to her 30.8 million followers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Eid Mubarak my friends and family عيد مبارك As Ramadan comes to a close, my thoughts are with families and children around the world without a safe place to call home. I remember the beauty of Ramadan, and fasting with my father and my Teta when I was young. Eid was so special for me, to be able to celebrate together. It makes my heart break thinking about the children and families that are separated and unable to unite during this time. I wish there was a way that I could take the pain away or more that I could do...But for this week, I will be supporting and donating to three charities that are working endlessly, in different ways, to help support Refugees, displaced families, families in the front lines of conflict and very importantly, the powerful and beautiful Middle Eastern children across Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other affected regions. @preemptivelove @unrwausa and @mecaforpeace I would like to explain to you exactly what these amazing organizations do...The Middle East Children's Alliance works for the rights and well being of children in the middle east. They support dozens of community projects for Palestinian children and refugees from Syria. MACA has been dedicated to making sure the children get direct aid like food, water, clothes, toys, books and school supplies... Financial Support and assistance in the West Bank and Gaza that helps children get basic needs such as accessible parks, kindergarten classes, libraries, sports, MUSIC/ art programs etc! They also offer university programs to help Palestinians grow up to be everything they can be. I will be supporting this organization for a very long time I want these children to know that they are so special and that there are people here that care about them.. ( if you would kindly slide to the right to see how Preemtive Love Coalition & UNRWA USA have dedicated their time as well) my Preemtive Love Coalition donation link will be in my Bio Thank you for reading I would love for you to join me to help these incredible charities, and if not, spreading the word will always help.. We can and will be the voice for the ones who cannot be heard ‎عيد مبارك

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

Captioning a series of pictures of refugees and displaced families in the Middle East, the 23-year-old model said: “As Ramadan comes to a close, my thoughts are with families and children around the world without a safe place to call home.

“It makes my heart break thinking about the children and families that are separated and unable to unite during this time. I wish there was a way that I could take the pain away or more that I could do.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My rider! @gigihadid 25...big girl!!!

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

The supermodel has always been vocal in her support of less-fortunate families in the region. This week, she announced that she would be donating to three charities to help support “refugees, displaced families, families in the front lines of conflict and very importantly, the powerful and beautiful Middle Eastern children across Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other affected regions.”

Her heartfelt message went on to explain what each of these three organizations — Preemptive Love, UNRWA USA, and Middle East Children’s Alliance — do to help the needy.

“I want these children to know that they are so special and that there are people here that care about them,” Hadid wrote.