Living in a country where pork and all pork products are banned makes the humble sausage somewhat of a delicacy. The idea of bacon and cabbage is like an oasis in the middle of the desert, literally, and a pork chop would be on a similar pedestal to caviar.
The consumption of pork and all pork products has been denounced in the Qur’an. Nowhere in this Muslim society is there a trace of pork for sale, not a sliver of bacon, not a sausage. There is a misconception that Muslims do not eat pigs because they are sacred (the pigs not the Muslims), however the reason is that Allah forbids it and has marked the pig as being unclean and therefore unsafe for humans to eat. “Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah.” [Al-Qur’an 5:3]
The smuggling of pork and bacon through customs at Doha airport is common practice and something that is largely ignored by Qatari customs officers if the amount being smuggled is deemed for personal consumption. Who sets out the guidelines for how many sausages and rashers a person could eat? I don’t know. If honey was illegal, I’d probably have a beehive in my back yard and a top-of-the-range beekeeper suit hanging up in the hot press. I don’t like honey, I don’t have a hot press either, but such would be my compulsion to have what is not allowed. While in a different climate you may judge the status of man on the stock of his wine cellar or whether his brandy was Hennessy or Courvoisier, but here in the Doha, the true mark of a man, is how much bacon he has in his freezer. As an implication of pork being contraband and me being Irish, I just had to then have as much in stock as possible, happy with my plug and play religion I disregarded the words in the book of Deuteronomy, “And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.” Deuteronomy 14:8]
The number one request I have from any visitors coming to Doha, is of course, bacon. So when my mother-in-law politely asked what we’d like her to bring, it was obvious. Of course I sprinkled the tall order with fake hankerings for Barry’s Tea and other harmless products but be in no doubt, my eye was on the prize, oink!
Being a cautious traveler and law-abiding citizen my mother-in-law was hesitant to bring pork and bacon to Qatar. The night before her flight, she expressed her concern about getting questioned and possibly deported after being held captive in some back room in Doha Airport for hours, with a bright light shining in her pensioner’s eyes as she endures hours and hours of grueling cross examination. Meanwhile I, being fully aware of the total restriction on the sale and consumption of pork in a Muslim country decided that sacrificing my mother-in-law’s freedom and sanity for a day or two was a good trade off in exchange for O’Herliys sausages and a few packets of rashers. The day came when Granny was put to the test, I assured her all would be fine, two things could happen, either she could prove to be a successful smuggler and get to see her grandson for two weeks or she would return to Ireland a stronger person, with a story to tell, maybe get an appearance on the Late Late Show to promote her from-the-heart book, “Why I’ll never eat sausages again”. Next day she arrived in Doha, all went well, I had a BLT for lunch as she bounced her grandson on her knee.