Youth: Fast food won’t replace traditional dishes [Archives:2008/1162/Reportage]

May 9 2008

Hatem Qubati
[email protected]
For The Yemen Times

Most Yemenis prefer traditional foods, especially those in rural areas where they adhere more to their customs and traditions than others, but fast foods like hamburgers and pizza are gaining popularity among younger Yemenis.

Several young men surveyed preferred eating fast food for the morning or evening meal, often going to fast food restaurants just to spend time with their friends outside of the house.

Though some of the people surveyed remained loyal to their traditional foods such as malouj (bread), lahooh, aseed and salta and didn't know much about fast food, many of them liked the convenience of fast food, even if it wasn't healthy.

Younger women liked traditional foods and frequently cooked them for their families, but some said they like to eat fast food because of its convenience when they are burdened with other responsibilities. Young women also prefer eating fast food when gathering with their friends and families at parks and gardens.

Abdurabu Al-Salami, 22, student

I prefer traditional Yemeni foods like salta, fahsa and aseed because I've known them since early childhood. Also, it's better for me to eat these instead of fast foods like burgers, sandwiches, pizza, etc.

Nader Al-Qirshi, 24, student

I actually prefer both traditional and fast food. When I eat traditional foods, they are so delicious, but when I want a change, I eat fast food. Actually, both are delicious, but fast foods are no more delicious than traditional ones.

Abdullatif Ali Saleh, 24, recent graduate

If I talk about foods in general, traditional foods are better than any other food, but when I'm bored with traditional foods, I eat fast food.

For example, if I only eat traditional foods for a week or two, I feel that I want a change, and vice versa, because everyone wants to change his or her food, just as his or her style of clothing or lifestyle.

Abeer Hassan Al-Madwali, 22, recent graduate

I prefer traditional foods because they are cleaner and healthier than other foods. Fast food usually is full of cooking oil, so it may have bad effects upon the health.

I also prefer traditional foods because I have the ability to cook them well.

Naseem Ahmed Dhaifallah, 22, student

I think fast foods such as sandwiches, potatoes and broast (a meal of fried chicken, French fries and bread), etc. are better because they're easier to cook and take little time.

They're the best solution while I'm still a student and have more responsibilities.

Arzaq Jamal Al-Ansi, student

In some cases, I prefer traditional foods because I've loved and used to eat them since childhood.

However, I sometimes prefer eating fast food, especially if I go to a restaurant or park with my family, because it has a special taste.

Amal Mohammed Atia, student

I prefer traditional foods because they're healthier than fast food.

Muna Abdu Al-Nadish, 22, student

I prefer traditional foods because they're safer and cleaner than other foods. Some people may prefer fast food, but not always and only in necessary situations.

Zaher Abdu, 45, owner of Al-Zaher Salta and Fahsa restaurant on 20th Street

People come here to eat salta and fahsa, particularly on Thursday and Friday, because Yemenis prefer eating good food before going to chew qat. Most of my customers are male youths and elderly men.

We're only open at lunch because people don't eat salta or fahsa for breakfast or dinner, only for lunch.

Sedqi Al-Selwi, 30, owner of Al-Selwi traditional restaurant on Hail Street

Customers come to my restaurant every day at noon for lunch, which is the most important meal for Yemenis. However, for breakfast and dinner, they eat fast food such as khameer (fried bread), sandwiches, etc.

Mohammed Al-Odaini, 36, owner of Al-Baraka cafeteria on Al-Dhairy Street

My cafeteria is open all night because the number of customers increases at night until the morning. However, I close during the day because there are no customers because they go to restaurants.

Eighty percent of my customers are Sana'a University students aged between 19 and 33.