Some may be lead to believe that the current Middle Eastern conflict is at a boiling point, that any minor dispute may cause an eruption between the region’s countries. This region has been fighting, raising tensions and most of all sustaining violence each and every day. It is difficult to believe that Israel and its neighboring states can discover any similarities amongst themselves. However, there is at least one thing that this region shares in common, especially Israel and Lebanon, and that is hummus! Although these countries’ cultures share this fresh delicious dip, Israel and Lebanon still found a way to make it a competition…
So one may ask who really has the rights to call Hummus a traditional dish? Well, Israel and Lebanon partook in a “friendly” culinary battle to see who can ultimately claim Hummus as their own. In May 2010, Lebanon broke open Israeli’s record for creating the largest bowl of chickpea dip earlier that year, constructing a bowl holding ten tons to Israeli’s previous four tons of hummus. Lebanon also achieved a Guinness world record of five tons of falafel, another Middle Eastern treat. From a competition standpoint, Lebanon surpassed Israel in the quantitative goal and has so called “bragging rights,” though this competition meant much more to some. According to Chantal Tohme, one of the Lebanese hummus event’s organizers,
“It is more than about the Guinness World Record. It is about proving that hummus is Lebanese…it is being promoted as a non-Lebanese dish, and as an Israeli traditional dish, and it is not. And if we go back to history we see that it came from Lebanon.”
From having the opportunity to travel to Israel and taste the freshly produced Hummus, I can say that it is absolutely delicious. I can only assume, if Lebanese Hummus is really that different, that it is also a delectable treat. It is interesting to realize that citizens from both countries and people all around the world enjoy the dish, yet food connoisseurs in Israel and Lebanon can’t be at ease until it is recognized as one’s national dish. Lebanon wants to settle the matter by registering hummus with the European Union as Beirut’s national dish. However, apart from national pride, the rivalry may also be about controlling the world’s hummus market, which is worth 1 billion globally, according to Fadi Abboud, President of The Association of Lebanese Industrialists. Abboud claims, “Israeli companies are depriving Lebanese companies of huge potential earnings by exporting hummus they make with traditional Lebanese recipes.” Seeing as though these countries have nonintegrated markets, I don’t see how Israel can be suppressing their ability to sell Hummus.
Hummus needs to be a commodity in the Middle East that unites the region rather than forcing them more apart. Habeeb Daoud, chef and owner of Ezba, a Palestinian-Lebanese restaurant in northern Israel says, “It forces the two nations to cross boundaries. Because in the hummus restaurants, there is little room and Jews and Arabs must sit at the same tables. It forces people to meet.” What are the chances that Israel and Lebanon create a hummus bowl together? Does one country really make better Hummus?
Greenberg, Samara. “Middle Eastern Food Fight – Jewish Policy Center.” Jewish Policy Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <http://www.jewishpolicycenter.org/blog/2010/05/middle-eastern-food-fight>.