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Lebanon claims latest title in 'Hummus War'

By the CNN Wire Staff
The world's largest plate of hummus weighs 11.5 tons and was created Saturday by 300 Lebanese chefs.
The world's largest plate of hummus weighs 11.5 tons and was created Saturday by 300 Lebanese chefs.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Origin of the dish is a source of heated debate between Lebanese and Israeli producers
  • Lebanon wants approval from the European Union to register hummus as a national dish
  • Local media: Record-breaking dish included 2 tons of tahini, 2 tons of lemon juice, 154 lbs of olive oil
RELATED TOPICS
  • Lebanon
  • Israel

(CNN) -- Lebanon set a record for the largest plate of hummus Saturday in the continuing gastronomic war with Israel over the regional delicacy.

The war has played out publicly for years with two sides outdoing each other for the title of world's best or world's largest hummus dish.

On Saturday, about 300 Lebanese chefs in the village of al-Fanar -- about 8 km (5 miles) east of Beirut -- lay claim to the latter title with a dish that weighed 11.5 tons. That's 23,042 pounds or 10,452 kg.

The achievement more than doubled the previous record -- set in January in the Arab-Israeli village of Abu Gosh.

The January dish weighed in at more than 4 tons -- the same as four average family cars.

Local media said a Guinness Book of World Record representative certified the results Saturday.

The Lebanese chefs used 8 tons of boiled hummus, 2 tons of tahini, 2 tons of lemon juice and 154 lbs (70 kg) of olive oil for their dish, local media said.

Hummus, a regional delicacy, made of chickpeas, sesame paste and garlic, among other ingredients, is loved equally by Arabs, Jews and Christians living in the Middle East.

Yet, in spite of their shared appreciation, the origin of the dish is a source of heated debate with the Lebanese claiming ownership and Israelis denying that they have exclusive rights to the name.

Lebanon has been seeking approval from the European Union to register hummus as a national dish.

"What we have been trying to do is just what the Greeks have done with feta cheese," said Fadi Abboud, president of The Association of Lebanese Industrialists, in January.

In 2002, the European Commission gave Greece a "protected designation of origin" right to the name "feta," for the white sheep and goat's milk cheese made there. Similar cheeses from outside the country must use terms like "Greek-style cheese".

Abboud maintains that Israeli companies are depriving Lebanese companies of huge potential earnings by exporting hummus made using traditional Lebanese recipes.

The Israelis see things differently.

"Trying to make a copyright claim over hummus is like claiming for the rights to bread or wine," said Shooky Galili, an Israeli whose blog, dedicated to all things hummus, bears the credo "give chickpeas a chance."

"Hummus is a centuries old Arab dish -- nobody owns it, it belongs to the region," said Galili, who believes the rivalry is about control over the hummus market. Globally, the market is worth $1 billion, according to Abboud.

However, Galili is hopeful that the so-called "hummus war" will be beneficial for relations in the long run.

"If you enter any good hummus restaurant in this region, you will see Jews and Muslims, Palestinians and Israelis sitting at the same table, eating the same food. I think in the end this rivalry will show that we in the Middle East have far more in common than the things that divide us."

-- CNN's Amir Ahmed contributed to this report.

 
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