During the recent “Hummus War” most Israelis were less worried about who wins and mainly became curious about how the Lebanese version of the dish tastes. And so, Lebanese hummus places in Tel-Aviv seem to do very well these days.
Some 120 years ago, my great grandfather, Zeev, found love in Lebanon. He married my great grandmother, Mathilda, and took her back to his hometown, Sefad. That’s only one eighth of my blood, but that’s a very important eighth.
Topographically speaking, the mounts of Galilee (in the north of Israel) and a large part of Lebanon, are one geographical entity. There’s a natural resemblance in the foods and food culture of the two places, which were also both under the strong influence of Syria and the great Ottoman empire for hundreds of centuries.
So, I’m not surprised that every time I taste Lebanese hummus – or one the is said to be that – it tastes different. I think that like Israeli/Palestinian hummus, there’s no one single recipe but numerous genres and dialects, that tell a glorious story that is old – but sure is kicking.
Lebanese hummus in Tel-Aviv
Most Israelis I know did not take the hummus war with Lebanon too seriously. If anything, the discussion over this alleged rivalry has made the hummus enthusiasts is Israel more curious about the Lebanese version of the dish. Read more
Some people I know find this idea no less than appalling, but Squeeze Z Hummus – the hummus in a squeeze bottle – seems like a promising product for the American market.
Also, the initial name of the product, Zohan Hummus, looked too suspicious. There’s no way, we thought, that this is a real product that got permission to use the sacred name.
Apparently, Zohan and his friends are indeed not the kind of people you want to mess with – and the product’s name quickly changed (although you can still see it, printed on them shirts in the promotion video at SqueezeZ Food‘s website).
The idea didn’t: Squeeze Z Hummus comes in a ketchup-like squeeze bottle, that is supposed to make it easier to use and make double dipping impossible. It costs some $6 for a 18OZ bottle and comes in 3 flavors: classic, spicy and with dill. Read more
A Greeting for Jewish New-Year, with a few words of explanation [Read the explanation, than watch the video].
Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New-Year, which according to ancient tradition is the day when all creation started. It is also the day in which our good and bad deeds are weighed and calculated, up in the sky, and everybody gets their “sentence” for next year. Of course, that’s a “popular” explanation of more complex ideas in Jewish Philosophy, that is useful for people who have children.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that a new year is an opportunity for new beginnings, and a time to set thing strait with both god and other people. So, in the days before (and after) Rosh Hashana, Happy New Year greetings usually come with words of apology and appeasement.
It is customary to celebrate Rosh Hashana night with a festive meal that include some symbolic dishes. The symbolism is not always easy to explain to non Hebrew speakers, because in most cases it’s pun based. For example, it is customary to eat something with carrots because the Hebrew word for carrot (“Gezer”) sounds a little bit like the word for sentence (“Gzar din”). Easier to explain is the custom to dip apples in honey, as a blessing for better, sweeter year.
Got to admit, though, that I like (the video aboves’ creator) Asaf Billet‘s interpretation better:
Yeah, that’s kind of silly – having a wipeable hummus metaphor in your iPhone. But I guess it’s somewhat like having a blog about hummus.
Despite my basic affection for advanced technology, I’m a very conservative user of cellular phones. As a matter of fact, I only recently upgraded my cellphone to a model that actually works.
So I don’t have an iPhone and I can’t give you a real review of this iHummus app, which screenshots you can see here. And to be honest – I do think it’s kind of silly.
(Which can be perceived as somewhat funny, coming from someone who owns a blog about hummus…)
Nevertheless, I’m sure there are a lot of hummus loving iPhone owners out there to whom this app would seem like truly innovative, both useful and exciting.
The features listed by the developer:
* Tasty plate of hummus is made just for you
* Wipe your Hummus using a pita
* Dirt the table with hummus
Ought to be fun. I guess. If you do have an iPhone and feel like sharing your thoughts about it, feel free to do so.
Hummus is on the rise. We’ve already discussed the rise of web searches for hummus on Google. The following examples don’t dive into stats and graphs, but show the success of hummus in North America. First, let’s look at this picture:
Thanks to shane_curcuru on Flickr for the picture.
We see here a full aisle of hummus in a supermarket. Not a shelf in the organic foods stand, not a product in a remote corner for imported goods, but a significant floor space in a regular supermarket. Read more
Another Guinness record for the largest hummus plate was set by Lebanese – 11.5 tons this time. But is it possible – and I’m just thinking out loud – that some people take this too seriously?
The famous 300 Lebanese chefs did it again. Earlier this month they broke the recent Guinness Record, set on January this year in the Arab village of Abu Gosh, near Jerusalem.
The fine PR work around this new record, led – again – to an unprecedented coverage in the media.
Naturally, as the only person on earth who has not one but two blogs about hummus (including the Hebrew version), I was promoted from “only” being interviewed by CNN, BBC and such, to have been quoted as a “Quote of the Day” in TIME alongside Gordon Brown, Barack Obama, and a few others who may achieved a little bit more in their life than I.
A joke that is slightly less funny
In a post about one of the previous records (here) I already explained why I think this alleged “hummus war” is rather funny. And better yet, why it’s a great PR for hummus – even though it is anything but a genuine rivalry between Israeli and Lebanese chefs.
The Lebanese campaign of reclaiming hummus has little to do with national feelings or gastronomic pride. The question is not “who owns hummus” but who will sell packaged hummus to the American market. And I think most Israelis and Lebanese will agree that’s not even real hummus.
I still think the hummus war is one of the nicest we had in the region, and we should all wish for more wars like this and fewer wars in which people are actually killed. Unfortunately, when there’s so much money involved, there will always be people who will use the opportunity to demonstrate their politics of hate. Try this video for instance:
One of the funniest pieces on this hummus war was published last week in Asharq Alawsat, a respectable Arab Read more
Sweden is quickly becoming the Nordic superpower of hummus. Not only can you eat hummus in Lebanese restaurants in Stockholm, but you can find packaged hummus from Sweden in supermarkets all over the region.
Us Israelis, have a long history of special relationship with the Swedish people. They saved a lot of jews during WWII – for which we repaid in excess consumption of TV shows based upon classic Swedish children literature – from Pippi Longstocking to The Moomins to Astrid’s Emil to Nils Holgersson.
Not to mention the unbelievable popularity ABBA had here, up until today I think. Read more