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Who owns hummus?

The Middle East is a place where passions are quick to ignite. And so, where there is hummus, there is also intense rivalry - over who has the best recipe, which nationality invented it, and who can make the biggest bowl of it. So in 2008 the national Association of Lebanese Industrialists decided to sue Israel in an international court, because the Jewish state, they asserted, had claimed propriety over traditional Arab cuisine such as falafel, tabbouleh and hummus, which Lebanese consider their own. "By registering Lebanese foods and ingredients", stated Fadi Abboud, "We are preventing Israel from stealing our trademark foods and selling them around the world". Abboud compared his threatened law suit to the one over feta cheese in which a European Union court ruled in 2002, the cheese must be made with Greek sheep and goats milk to bear the name feta. But the court case never eventuated.

And then, in January 2010, Israel attacked Lebanon...with a giant plate of hummus. Using a satellite dish on loan from a nearby broadcast station, cooks in Abu Gosh an Arab-Israeli town near Jerusalem, whipped up more than four metric tons of hummus. The Israeli chefs doubled the previous Guinness record for the world's biggest serving of hummus, set in October 2009 by Lebanese cooks. That record broke an earlier Israeli record, and briefly put Lebanon ahead. Hundreds of jubilant Israelis, a mix of Arabs and Jews, gathered around the giant dish, many of them dancing as a singer performed a love song to honour the chickpea dip. The event was recorded as the official Guinness World Record for the biggest plate of hummus ever.

But then...in May 2010, Lebanese chefs fired back an even bigger missile! It's the Middle East, after all. And everyone wants to retaliate - right? An eye for an eye. In the village of Al-Fanar–about 8 km east of Beirut-300 Lebanese chefs reclaimed the world record with a dish that weighed 11.5 tons or 10,452 kg. The achievement more than doubled the previous Israeli record. It was a mega WMD (weapon of mash destruction) 8 tons of boiled chick peas, 2 tons of tahini, 2 tons of lemon juice and 70 kgs of olive oil–were shipped in for the dish. A newscaster on Israel's Army Radio referred to the hummus clash as "the third Lebanon war".

The hummus war went viral across the globe, on the internet, Youtube and Facebook.

Claudia Roden - the origins of hummus

Yehuda Litani: Who owns hummus?

Yehuda Litani is an Israeli journalist, filmmaker and regular contributor to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper and the author of 'Not By Hummus Alone'. Litani is regarded as Israel's leading expert on hummus. He advocates that the best hummus is made from tahina produced by the Palestinian stone ground presses of Nablus in the West Bank.

Jacob Omisi: Who owns hummus?

Jacob Omisi owns and runs Falafel Omisi in Australia's Jewish heartland, Caulfield a suburb of Melbourne. Jacob's grandparents began the first Falafel Omisi in Israel after they left Yemen in the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries that began with the birth of Israel.

Ilan Pappe - memories as a weapon

Robert Fisk: the hummus war is 'rubbish'

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