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 for their agenda.
One of the funniest pieces on this hummus war was published last week in Asharq Alawsat, a respectable Arab newspaper published in the UK. In a column titles Psychological Warfare the author, Muhammad Diyab, actually claim that the hummus war is a Zionist conspiracy:
“Israel always succeeds in dragging us away from core issues to be preoccupied by marginal ones, such as the hummus war that is currently raging between Lebanese chefs and the Israeli intelligence’s psychological warfare department… I doubt that Israeli chefs are responsible for their rivalry… As Arabs, why are we concerned with competing with Israel on issues such as hummus whilst ignoring competition in the fields of industry, scientific research, educational and military excellence?”
The funniest thing about this theory is that – just as Diyab claims – Israeli chefs weren’t involved in the rivalry. The former Guinness Record, set in Abu Gosh, was actually a Palestinian achievement. Jawadat Ibrahim, the owner of the Abu Gosh Restaurant and his 30 chefs, are all Palestinians.
Of course, the construction of the 4 ton Abu Gosh hummus plate was also a PR event sponsored by local food manufacturers (including the Barake tahini brand, which is also owned by Palestinians). The very significant difference was the Ibrahim dedicated his huge hummus dish to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
As for Diyab – he is a journalist from Saudi Arabia, a country who could hardly blame Israel for underachievement in sciences, industry or education. Sure, his leaders have other things in mind than the welfare of their citizens, but it isn’t necessarily hummus.
As for the Lebanese – they do have a series of very reasonable reasons not to like Israel, but hummus has nothing to do with that.