The Islamic Society of Orange County, a mosque in Garden Grove threw their first Halal Food Festival featuring an international flavor palette and drawing a diverse crowd encompassing both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Many of the attendees drove out from San Diego and North California.
“For this event we actually marketed in San Diego, the Inland Empire, Los Angeles and Orange County,” said Amira Yousef, chair of the planning committee.
Halal is defined as food following Islamic laws of slaughter and preparation. Many devout Muslims eat halal and this food festival featured only halal foods and even a table with halal coffee. The festival featured Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian, Pakistani, Asian, Mexican and American cuisines.
“It’s really interesting. I like looking at all the different cultures here,” said Vicki Amnat, a non-Muslim and friend of one of the members of the mosque’s youth group.
Despite this event being thrown by ISOC, many non-Muslims were in attendance and the festival drew a crowd with many cultural backgrounds.
“I feel like a lot of people stick to their own cultural backgrounds and by laying out so many different options of food they could be exposed to something new,” Yousef said.
There were even a few vendors featuring fusion options like Korean barbeque street tacos. This vendor also featured items like barbeque beef ribs on their menu. They are based in the San Fernando Valley and are looking into opening a restaurant soon. Mohamed Elhussainy stresses the importance of popular “American” foods like beef ribs being available to the halal eater and how popular halal American foods have the potential to be.
“I heard from people that they were really excited to try halal Korean barbeque which they might not have the option to do at other restaurants,” said Rawan Elhalaby, 24, San Diego resident
Elhussainy’s booth had one of the longest lines at this festival and completely sold out hours before the event ended.
“No matter where you come from, what your interests are, you’ve got to eat and we wanted to capture all the different way you can do that here,” Yousef said.
Falasophy, a vegetarian food truck based in Orange County featuring items like falafel sandwiches, hummus bowls and salads was the only food truck at this event.
“Falafel is the quintessential vegetarian food but we get only some vegetarians, mostly people who want something different,” said Rashad Moumneh, founder of Falasophy.
All the proceeds from this event is going to the Mosque’s youth group.