Check out our latest piece from The Blue and White, in which Senior Editor Channing Prend, CC ’17, has a chat over chicken and rice with one of the Hooda guys. Like what you read? Want to see your name in beautiful blue print someday? Come to The Blue and White‘s first meeting of the year, this Tuesday, September 9 at 9pm in the Crypt of St. Paul’s chapel.
Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.” Permissible according to Islamic law that is, not necessarily New York City health codes. But stumbling out of the Heights at 1 a.m. on a lonely summer night, a lamb over rice sounded pretty darn permissible. I decided to put my grumbling stomach before my bowels and stopped at Hooda’s.
You may have also enjoyed halal during your late-night Morningside exploits. And perhaps, like me, the extent of your conversation with the halal guy is begging for free fries. But this Blue and White writer, emboldened by several raspberry margaritas and a tyrannical editor’s threats, sought answers about the history of this neighborhood fixture.
Hooda’s first arrived on 115th Street 9 years ago, Kareem, the nighttime proprietor, informed me. “It’s not like you just show up one day,” he said. “There are regulations.”
More complex than city laws however, are the unspoken rules between vendors. City agencies do not dictate locations for carts, so vendors settle questions of location amongst themselves. “Spots are like private property,” Kareem told me. “People even try to sell them.”
Some vendors resort to intimidation to scare off newcomers. On arriving in Morningside, Hooda’s unknowingly encroached upon the turf of another longtime cart Amir’s. “A few weeks after moving here, the tires on my cousin’s truck were slashed,” Kareem stated. “We think it was this guy Amir who had a cart up the block.”