People Don’t Eat Shrimps in Yemen


CC was born and grew up in Beijing. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Arabic, and then served as an interpreter for China’s medical assisstance team sent to Yemen. He stayed in Yemen for over 10 years, helping with the communication between the patients in Yemen and the medical workers from China. During his time in Yemen, he got to know many local Yemen people and was able to learn a lot about their culture from local people.

The informant shared this piece of folk practice during an interview via phone call.

The Main Piece:

CC asked: “Do you know that Arabic People (I personally think he’s mostly referring to people in Yemen) don’t eat shrimps? They say that shrimps are made of the dead skins and dirt from Alah’s feet, saying they’re dirty. When I was in Yemen, sometimes we go to the beach, we might see the beach full of shrimps, but nobody takes them or eat them. But we’re Chinese and we didn’t care, so we would collect a lot of the shrimps and we would eat them. But people know shrimps are delicious, so nowadays more and more young Muslims started eating shrimps, but the older ones I know, they don’t eat shrimps at all. “


I know there are some restrictions on what a Muslim can or cannot eat, but I didn’t know it would involve such common foods like shrimps. It is interesting that this habbit of not eating shrimps is linked to the creation of things: the people in Yemen give everything an origin in their creation myths, and shrimps, unfortunately, have a less popular one.