Food fights

Food is dear to my heart.  Not only do I eat it, I also teach in a course called “Food Across Cultures” in the Macquarie Anthropology Department.  So I was delighted to receive this morsel (bad pun, I know) from Raffe: a Time Magazine blog reporting that some Lebanese man wants to sue Israel for stealing its cuisine: hummus, falafel, and tabbouleh.  So the reporter goes to eat hummus at a shop in Jerusalem and asks the owner if hummus is Lebanese or Palestinian.  “Who cares?” replied Zahdeh with a shrug. “Everybody makes good hummus around here –-except the Egyptians.”  As someone who just came back from a stint of fieldwork in Egypt, I can say amen to that!

(For those of you who are interested in the politics and anthropology of food in the Middle East, I urge you to check out Sami Zubaida and Richard Tapper’s excellent edited volume, “A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East.”)

–L.L. Wynn

9 Responses to Food fights

  1. Raffe says:

    As hummus predates the founding of the modern State of Israel it can’t possibly be Israeli. That being said some of the best hummus i’ve ever had has been in Israel. Cultures have merged over time with Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and Palestinian citizens all residing throughout the region and all adding their own flair to a traditional dish.

    I personally think this lawsuit is a frivolous idea and is a waste of a court’s time (if there are any international lawyers out there i’d love to know if one could make a case with something a wide-ranging as hummus). I don’t consider hummus to be an Israeli dish; rather a Middle Eastern one. Whilst we may never know where hummus originated we must all agree that it tastes amazing!

  2. llwynn says:

    Except in Egypt. Honestly, it does NOT taste amazing there. :)

  3. Noor Hammad says:


    We Egyptians give you guys the best movies, the best music, the best falafel and you can do nothing than bag out our hommous?

    I think I might have to put in a call to Barry O’Farrrell re: the Anti-Egyptian-Hommous bias of this blog!

    Noor Hammad

  4. llwynn says:

    Ha ha! OK, to be fair to our dear Noor, I must confess that yes, Egyptian falafel is fantastic. (Noor is kindly translating so everyone will understand, but actually in Egypt they call it ta’ameyya and it’s made out of fava beans, not chick peas, and it’s really tasty.) And as for movies, I brought back 6 Egyptian films and I’ll review every one of them whenever I get around to watching them!


  5. Gennaro says:

    Ya ustaza Lisa,

    I see you’re endorsing the view of Egyptian hummus not being so good..Well, in January I’ll bring you with me for dinner at my friend Ahamd’s place (The only female Ahmad I know!), in Masr el-Gedida, and your view will be challenged!!! :-)



  6. mustafa ramadan says:

    Hummus and flafel/ta’miyyah don’t need a genius to prepare them.
    Khaldoun is a scholarly site and isn’t a palce for talking about such stuff.


  7. Noor Hammad says:


    Grab a dictionary and look up ‘anthropology’ and ‘ethnography’, shouldn’t take long.

    Food is integral to Middle Eastern culture and therefore has a place in this blog.

  8. mustafa ramadan says:


    Teach us more about hummus, then !


  9. CF says:

    You mix lots of hummus with a little tahina, pour a little oil and lemon juice on it, and some “hot” (if you like). Eat it with pita and a dish of tabouli.

    A feast for the gods, and one of the more fun parts of anthropological study. Indeed, to really study this arcane field, it’s best if one practices and tests real hummus a lot – painstakingly and with full justice to each delicious variation (except, possibly, in Egypt).

    Inaccuracy in this area would be unforgivable. I suggest multiple application of the taste buds.

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