Some say it takes a village. But when it comes to setting world records, it most definitely takes an entire nation and in this case, a whole lot of chickpeas… On Saturday Lebanon revealed its Guinness World Record-winning platter of hummus, once again raising the bar for the largest serving ever whipped up and reestablishing itself as the ultimate king of dips over its nemesis, Israel.
This year’s record winner weighed in at an inconceivable 23,042 pounds, crushing Israel’s previous record of 9,016 pounds, made by 50 chefs and served in a 20-foot satellite dish in January. After three months of preparation, on Saturday Lebanon came with guns blazing; no less than 300 chefs from the al-Kataaf cooking school pulverized over 10 tons of ingredients, determined not only to make their hummus bigger, but better tasting too. Aside from the critical chickpea (eight tons, boiled and crushed), their recipe included 154 pounds of olive oil, two tons of tahini, two tons of lemon juice, garlic and salt.
The ongoing competition (informally dubbed “the hummus wars”) between the two countries is not just a matter of culinary prowess, it’s about national pride. Though hummus is a fundamental dish in many Middle Eastern countries, both Israel and Lebanon lay claim to its origin. While the two countries have officially been at war for nearly six decades, this particular battle began when a Lebanese businessman took it upon himself to seek registration for hummus as a national dish of Lebanon with the European Union. Israelis basically said, “I don’t think so”, thus a new war began.
And though the event is intended to be fun, and some argue the entire rivalry is about controlling the hummus market (worth $1 billion globally) there’s still a large degree of national pride involved. As Lebanese sous-chef, Alain Abou put it:
“We will beat it [Israel] not in the army, but in the hummus.”
Others, like Israeli blogger Shooky Galili see the competition as an opportunity for peace:
“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.”
Stay tuned because Lebanon isn’t stopping there. Cooking school Head Chef Ramzi Choueiry says the largest-ever plate of falafel is next.