Make Hummus Not War

Hummus is one of the oldest known prepared foods in human history, stretching back to the Crusades. Israelis, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Turks and Iraqis, all claim it as their own.

But 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. In 2008, the Association of Lebanese Industrialists ignited the ‘Hummus War’, by deciding to sue Israel in an international court, claiming Israeli food manufacturers were promoting traditional Arab cuisine as Israeli products.

Make Hummus Not War is Graham’s journey though the hummus bars and kitchens of, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and New York. Along the way he encounters Claudia Roden and other well known gastronomes like Janna Gur. He meets zealots, Jewish settlers, biblical characters, political activists, chickpea farmers, novelists and Sheiks, for whom hummus is a near religious obsession. But the heat in the kitchen is sometimes blistering.

Graham finds himself unwittingly drawn into the bigger Arab-Israel conflict. The hummus war, he concludes, is a battle over history, national honour, myth and religious faith. Does that sound familiar? More than a culinary journey, to taste delicious hummus, Graham has a quest to find some answers; who owns hummus, and who–Jew or Arab–has the most mouth watering secret recipe? Are people who adore the same food, destined to share the same fate?

Graham ponders a whacky proposition…….could a regional love of hummus be the long yearned for solution to peace in the Middle East? Make Hummus Not War, is a humorous homage to the chickpea’s most distinguished dish. But there’s a personal story within the ‘hummus war’ story, how Graham became a hummus tragic–a father who served as a soldier in Palestine during World War 2–and two lovers in his life, one Syrian, one Jewish, with whom he shared a great culinary passion.

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