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Published:April 12th, 2010 09:39 EST
The World's Largest Plate of Hummus and Middle East Peace

The World's Largest Plate of Hummus and Middle East Peace

By Geoff Dean

 I like hummus. Maybe even love the creamy, chick pea, olive oil, sesame paste and spice concoction that is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. I love it on falafel. With rice. Or inside pita. With couscous. OK, enough already!


 When I visited Israel for eight days, I made a point of having hummus at least once a day, since it is very hard to come by in Japan. For the record, I wouldn`t recommend eating hummus that often. I think I`ll use the "Don`t ask, don`t tell" policy on that one. Despite that hummus misadventure, I still love the stuff, in moderation.

 Hummus has been a Middle East favorite according to legend, since the first plateful was made by Saladin, the crusade beating Moslem, himself. In recent years, in Israel, it has become a national sport to roam the country in search of the best hummus (People in Japan do the same thing for ramen noodles).

 So I was irrationally exhuberant when I read in the Jewish Times Asia (I bet you never heard of that news magazine before) that the Arab-Israeli village of Abu Ghosh, just 15 minutes north of Jerusalem, set the world record for the largest plate of hummus (actually, the plate was a 20 foot satellite dish). The hummus itself came in at 8992.5 pounds (4,087.5 kilograms), and eclipsed the previous record set a few months ago in Lebanon. By nearly double! Jack Brookbank, an adjudicator with the Guinness Book of World Records, handled the adjudication, as well he might.

 So what, you may ask! 

 Hang on everyone. This is where the stretch comes in....

 This was a Jewish newsmagazine trumpeting the success of Arab-Israelis (they`d be called Palestinians if they lived a few kilometers east) over Lebanese rivals. The Lebanese love hummus. So do the Arab-Israelis and Palestinians. And so, indeed, do the Jews, Orthodox and otherwise. Does PM Netanyahu nosh hummus from time to time? Do the leaders of Hamas eat hummus? Is it a hit in Gaza? Syria? With Hezbollah?

 Maybe, there`d be a better chance of peace in the Middle East if all the regional players got together and enjoyed some hummus. Or shared their favorite recipes. Have a "hummus summit" in Abu Gosh. There`s surely enough hummus to go around.

 All foolishness aside (well, most, anyway), my point is that the Middle Eastern "enemies" share a lot in terms of culture, climate, challenges, and, dare I say it, even in religious values. Not everything, of course, but a lot. If people could learn to focus on the hummus that draws them together and not on the issues that tear them apart, things might just be different.

 I have an idea about a North-South "kim chee convention" as well.