Chicken à la Queens

A neighborhood halal poultry store inadvertently serves a surprising intersection of communities.

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“This is the same chicken we have on the island,” Ms. Pierre said. “When my mother would make the chicken for dinner, I was right there at her feet helping her. Everything I learned to cook, I learned from her in Haiti.” To her surprise, she has found a taste of home and the perfect chicken at the Halal Live Meat and Poultry Market, a short bus ride from her house.

Muhammad Ali, the 41-year-old Bangladeshi owner of the market, is happy that Ms. Pierre is happy, even if it was never his intention to provide the ingredients for a homey Haitian dish. When he opened Halal Live two years ago, after deciding to forgo a doctorate in international politics, his only goal was to provide the mainly Pakistani Muslim community in the area with meat slaughtered under the traditions set forth in the Koran. Drawn to this bustling corner of Archer Avenue and 168th Street because of the pedestrian traffic — three buses stop outside his door — he had no idea that he would end up with such a polyglot clientele.

“I would say 50 percent of our business comes from people I never expected to come here,” said Mr. Ali, a shy, small-framed man, talking over the squawks of poultry and the chatter of customers. Among those who are keeping business booming are a Nigerian exchange student heading home from biology class at York College, a Salvadoran mango vendor who stops there after working the sidewalks of Jamaica Avenue, and Orthodox Jews who come accompanied by a shochet, a person trained to slaughter animals according to kosher ritual.


from “In Queens, the Chicken Crossroads of the World,” article and photos by Greg Emerson Bocquet, NYTimes.com, 28 November 2008 :: via Koranteng

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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