In my last 34 years, I never understood the issue of the Middle East, I recall growing up hearing about Beirut, the torn-capital of Lebanon; at a very young age, I had no clue what a capital meant to a country. For me, my country was Zahle, and its capital was the church of St Elias, and that was enough.
With little electricity, one local TV channel, and a broken radio with dying batteries, my childhood giggles with my dad were often interrupted with that harsh tune of “The voice of Lebanon” radio station – مكتب التحرير في خبر جديد – announcing continuous breaking news; told me that Lebanon is at “war” and “war” is not good. Regardless what that meant to a 4 years old kid, who enjoyed falling asleep on her dad’s whispers of “”Que Sera, Sera; Whatever will be, will be; The future’s not ours to see; Que Sera, Sera”; that horrifying tune is still in-stored in my memory.
Although my mother reassured me that war is an adult game and a girl in my age should enjoy watching the adventures of Tom sawyer;
the breaking news made me wet my mattress every second night, and kept my grandfather “Jean” very busy cleaning and airing the furniture, until he passed away in 1985.
I grew up war proofed and fortunate; less interested in wars and more interested in Tom Sawyer; less interested in cleaning dishes, more interested in eating Lebanese.
With the Middle East peace talks still simmering in purgatory since 1970; Even the pope couldn’t stretch one step further; a more speedful yet speechless peace talk took place around a rectangle shaped IKEA table in Sydney, occupied by an Israeli, partnered with a former Australian Volunteer in Palestine, a Syrian–Armenian couple, a Lebanese, braced by a Greek and an Italian genuinely involved in eating and had nothing to do with United Nations, G8 summits bla bla bullshits…We all dipped our hands in one plate of homemade hummus, falafel and zaatar; drizzled with honest and genuine peace and extra virgin olive oil.
What brought us all together is good food.
Ok, Let me rephrase myself again: What brought us all together is great Lebanese food.
Trevor Graham strongly believed in the theory: hummus can bring peace to the Middle East. In his documentary “Make Hummus, Not War,” the Australian filmmaker humorously shows how the region’s undeniable favourite food both divides and unites people.
Inspired by a 2008 lawsuit, Graham set out to determine what nation and people can truly claim hummus as their own. In that year, a Lebanese trade group sued Israel for marketing dishes like hummus, falafel, and tabouleh as Israeli, claiming they are Lebanese.
But the debate Graham revealed went far beyond food. “The hummus war, he concludes, is a battle over history, national honour, myth and religious faith,” states the film’s website. “Does that sound familiar?” more details here
To make hummus:
The day before you wish to make the hummus, place 500 g dried chickpeas in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 10 cm or more. Add 2 tbsp. bicarbonate of soda and leave to soak overnight.
The next day, rinse the chickpeas, return them to the saucepan and cover with more water. Bring to the boil then simmer for approximately 1 hour, or until the chickpeas are soft and shedding their skins. Drain and allow cooling.
Place the chickpeas in a food processor and blend until soft and creamy. Add 1½ tbsp. tahini, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 garlic clove and salt and blend again until the mixture is smooth. Scoop into a serving bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the oil into the well and sprinkle paprika and a handful of chickpeas on top.
Dip in Lebanese bread if you are too civilized or dive in your fingers, tongue and feet, who cares?!
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience. If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”- Cesar Chavez