Hummus Wars

By Devra Ferst

Published October 28, 2009, issue of November 06, 2009.
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Battles over the origins of hummus have raged across the Middle East for generations, with Israelis and Lebanese arguing over which group can claim rights to the first ever recipe and who makes the precious dip better. Recently, however, the war has reached new heights.

In downtown Beirut on October 24, 300 Lebanese chefs mixed up a 4,532-pound batch of hummus and topped it with a Lebanese flag, setting the new Guinness World Record for the largest hummus platter.

The record was set at a recent event called “Come and Fight for Your Bite, You Know You’re Right!” The organizer, Fady Jreissati, told The Associated Press, “Lebanon is trying to win a battle against Israel by registering this new Guinness World Record and telling the whole world that hummus is a Lebanese product, it’s part of our traditions.”

The original record for the largest hummus dish was set by Israeli hummus company Sabra in 2007 in New York City. According to Humus101, the leading hummus blog, this record was superseded by another Israeli company, Hummus Tzabar, in 2008 in Jerusalem’s outdoor market, Mahaneh Yehudah.

Lebanon’s Association of Lebanese Industrialists is taking the recent clash seriously, seeking to copyright the food and stop Israeli companies from marketing the dish overseas as Israeli, citing a 2002 European Union case which decided feta cheese must be from Greece to be labeled feta in the E.U.

While the origins of hummus remain unknown, Lebanon and Israel have new competition: A recent Arabic-language cookbook from Ramallah claims that the dish is originally Palestinian.

The next battle? We hear it’s over the tabbouleh. How did the Lebanese chefs celebrate the Guinness victory? By making a 7,800-pound tabbouleh salad the next day.


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