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Lebanon Ups the Ante in the Hummus War

mzhummus

Courtesy of © Maya Zankoul, mayazankoul.wordpress.com

As many as 300 Lebanese chefs gathered yesterday in Beirut to make the largest ever plate of hummus in an attempt to claim the reigns in ownership of the popular chick pea dip.

The new world record is part of an ongoing campaign in Lebanon to reaffirm the country's claim to a number of dishes being produced in Israel – with the ownership of hummus being one of the main quarrels.

Israeli and Lebanese producers of hummus have been logged in a stiff competition for the growing global appetite for the delicious Middle Eastern dip.

Lebanese producers claim Israel is ripping off ‘Lebanese’ dishes and promoting them worldwide as their own.

The Israelis, for their part, were the previous world record holder for the largest hummus plate, prompting the Lebanese to react.

Officially in a state of war, the two countries appear to be widening the battle front to incorporate the fight for hummus.

The question now remains will other producers of the same dish, including the Syrians, Jordanians and Palestinians, enter the food fight?

Lebanese bloggers have offered their viewpoints on the battle for hummus.

Maya Zankoul ridiculed the battle with a humourous caricature of the event:

Yesterday, Lebanon broke the world record by making the largest hommos plate. I passed by the event location after the plate was made, and did not find it THAT big… So I imagined that after a while someone else would take the challenge of breaking our record and so on and so forth. W ba3den (and next)? Come on someone has to stop this nonsense!

Similar sentiments were echoed on The Cedar Tree blog:

At first, I heard about the largest kibbeh plate and I thought those Lebanese women were so cute. Then came the fight for the largest hummus plate and I thought this is starting to become ridiculous. But despite my personal opinion, apparently the Lebanese feel very passionate about their hummus and so we’re officially in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest hummus serving. I hope everyone’s happy about it. Can we move on now? No. There’s only one more fight left (let’s hope it’s the last) and that’s for the largest tabbouleh plate, scheduled to take place tomorrow on the 25th of October. Okay, now I’m thinking are these people out of their minds? What’s the point? So we make it into the book and then what? Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE Lebanese hummus, but I really think there’s way more important issues that are WORTH fighting for besides food and world records.

There are two questions I would like to find the answer for. One, how much money was spent to make this event today and two, what happened to all the hummus?

A blog post on A Diamond's Eye View of the World revealed equal bemusement (or amusement) to the event:

I agree that having Israelis and pseudo-Israelis try to correct my pronunciation of “hummus” as “KHumus” – say it with extra phlegm for full effect – is beyond irritating. But claiming a dish by cooking an obscene amount of it? And being PROUD of this? And creating an embarrassingly lame slogan – in English, no less? Good God.

In adding another dimension to the battle, Asad Abu Khalil at the Angry Arab blog highlighted that the origins of  hummus may not even be Lebanese, but Palestinian:

“”No one has the right to call hummus and falafel his national dish,” said Siham Baghdadi Zurub, a Ramallah-based chef and author of the Arabic-language cookbook The Palestinian Cuisine. She argued that in fact Palestinians were the first to make hummus of chickpeas, since the crop was plentiful, rather than from fava beans as done in Egypt and Syria. “Putting copyright on certain dishes is a selfish trend that reflects insecurity and lack of common sense.””

The hummus tug of war between Lebanon and Israel also captured the attention of Twitter users:

hummus

Whether it is to be considered a matter of national pride or source for comedy, the latest battle for hummus undoubtedly adds another twist to the firey relations between Lebanon and Israel.

3 comments

  • Ha! We have had so many posts on Global Voices over the years about the so-called Hummus Wars. It would be interesting to do a special coverage page looking back on them all. Well, I will be in Beirut in December and I’m looking forward to eating lots and lots of hummus … wherever it came from. :)

    • David,

      I like this idea. I looked up all the hummus and food related posts from Israel and there are quite a lot. Even more when you consider the region as a whole. This is a war I can get behind (one of the few).

      ~ Maya
      GVO, Israel

  • Can anyone here please suggest the best recipe for making hummus? Here in England, UK, I’ve tried several different recipes but none of them tasted as good as the hummus I have eaten in Cyprus and some Greek restaurants in London. I love hummus!

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