National: Lebanon, Israel Battle Over Hummus

War is about to break out again in the Middle East. This time, it’s not land or religion that they’re arguing about — nope, it’s a large-scale food fight. Over hummus.

Fadi Abboud, president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association, said Tuesday his group was planning to raise a lawsuit to stop Israel from marketing hummus and other dishes as Israeli.

Hummus is a spread made from cooked and mashed chickpeas, usually blended with sesame paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.

Eaten in the Middle East for centuries, its exact origin is unknown, though it’s generally seen as an Arab dish. The Lebanese claim it as their own and it’s a central part of their cuisine — though Palestinians also claim to have invented it.

It has also become enormously popular in Israel, common in everyday meals and served in many Israeli restaurants. It has also become popular internationally.

“It is not enough they (Israelis) are stealing our land. They are also stealing our civilization and our cuisine,” said Abboud.

Abboud said there have been numerous complaints by Lebanese businessmen that Israel was exporting and marketing Lebanese dishes as Israeli.

Oh boy. This could get ugly. I’ve always thought of food as a tool to bring people together, but in this part of the world, that might be asking too much. The Lebanese are trying to do what the Greeks did in 2002, when an EU court gave them exclusive rights to the term “feta.” But of course, the Middle Eastern equivalent to the EU court doesn’t exist, so this likely won’t get resolved anytime soon.

Now that you’re craving the delightful chickpea-tahini-olive oil puree, check out A La Turca.

Hummus war looms between Lebanon, Israel [USA Today]
A La Turca [MenuPages]
A La Turca [Official Site]

Photo: Zesmerelda/flickr

National: Lebanon, Israel Battle Over Hummus