Region | Lebanon

Putting Arabic food on the front line

Lebanon serves up a culinary campaign to reclaim traditional Arabic dishes from Israel

  • By Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor
  • Published: 00:00 October 11, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Biggest kibbeh: Produced in Ehden, Lebanon, on August 29, 2009, by 25 women. The 233-kilogramme kibbeh was spread on a 5-metre-diameter tray.
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Dubai: When calm sets in on the Arab-Israeli battlefields, other confrontations erupt.

Further conflicts arise by Israeli attempts to inflict damage to Muslim religious shrines, or seizing Arabs' heritage and culture.

The "alternative war" this time is between Lebanon and Israel and is on food.

After condemning Israel for stealing their water resources, the Lebanese are now pointing their fingers at Israel for usurping traditional dishes from the Arabic cuisine: hummos and tabbouleh — two of the best known Arabic appetisers.

Currently, Lebanon is planning to break Israel's Guinness World Record for the largest bowls of hummos and tabbouleh, as part of a campaign to claim the ownership of the traditional dishes.

Staple dish

"The important point is that hummos is an Arab oriental dish, and not Israeli in any way," Fadi Aboud, president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association (LIA), said of the dish, which is considered a staple on tables in Lebanon and neighbouring Arab countries, namely Syria, Jordan and Palestinian territories.

"We are not in disagreement with other Arab countries, we are concerned that the world has to be convinced that hummos is not an Israeli traditional dish," |Aboud told Gulf News in an interview from Beirut.

The LIA is arranging a special public ceremony to break Israeli records in downtown Beirut on October 24 and 25. The hummos plate will be prepared on the first day, and the tabbouleh the following day.

The organisers put the two-day event's cost at nearly $350,000 (Dh1.28 million), and about 50,000 spectators are expected to witness the spectacle.

An entertainment and singing area, as well as a food court will also be set up along with the two dishes' preparation area.

"We are attempting three records. The biggest bowl of hummos, the biggest bowl of tabbouleh, and the biggest plate in the world," said Seema Taleb, event coordinator at International Fairs and Promotion, a private company that is organising the event.

The biggest plate has been already made from clay, she said, preferring not to disclose the size of it.

Nearly 12 Lebanese companies are participating in the event through providing the necessary ingredients: chickpeas, tahini, crushed wheat, salt, paprika, olive oil, tomato, and other vegetables used to prepare the dishes, Taleb explained.

Students

Renowned Lebanese chef Ramzi Choueiri, manager of Al Kafaàt catering school, will be supervising the work of his 250 students at the cooking school in setting the new record of a 5-metre diameter bowl of hummos. The targeted bowl of tabbouleh should exceed 2 tonnes.

The current record-holder for the largest bowl of tabbouleh weighed 2,170 kilogrammes and was made by people in Majdal Shams, Israel, on 21 March 2008, according to the Guinness Records.

In Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem in 2008, a 4-metre diameter plate of hummos was served, (400 kilogrammes), according to some Israeli websites and blogs.

However, according to the Guinness World Records, the largest serving of hummos recorded so far measured 362.8 kilogrammes and was achieved by Sabra Mediterranean in New York on 6 March, 2006.

The upcoming giant Lebanese hummos plate will be prepared "according to the traditional way" and not the industrial method, in reference to canned hummos, organisers said.

Traditionally, hummos is the made of chickpea puree with sesame cream, called tahini, and seasoned with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.

As for tabbouleh, minced parsley and crushed wheat constitute its main ingredients, along with other vegetables.

‘Battle' continues

The Lebanese-Israeli food "battle" goes back to last year, when Israeli records were set and when Aboud said his group would file a lawsuit to stop Israel from marketing exported hummos and other dishes as Israeli.

"This requires a lot of research and hard work," Aboud said. "We have many historians working on it and they found out that the word ‘tabbouleh' goes back to ancient civilisations' Acadian language and it means ‘mixing many ingredients'.

"We are not saying that Arab Jews who were living in Palestine had not eaten tabbouleh or hummos [in the past], but this doesn't mean in any way that these two dishes are traditional Israeli [dishes].

"We consider this a fraud," Aboud said.

In the past, Palestinians complained that Israel is promoting their famous "falafel" as Israeli burgers, and the famous "ka'ek", which is like baguette bread but covered with sesame, as part of Israeli national food.

"We are eating it," a Palestinian journalist quoted as the Israeli response.

Some of the biggest food plates set with Gunnies world records

  • Biggest plate of "Chicken Biryani": was prepared in Doha, Qatar in 29, March 2002. It weighted 8.6 tones.
  • Longest piece of Marzipan: was prepared in Syria on the first day of July 2003, in Aleppo. 225 chefs participated in making the 4.19 tones piece. Biggest number of "Zalabaeh" with rice desert : was prepared in Dubia, UAE in July 6, 2005.
  • Longest Arabic bread loaf: On November 4, 2008, a team of workers in a bakery in Doha, Qatar succeeded in producing a 128.5 meter bread
  • Biggest "Kubba": was produced in Ehden Lebanon town in August 29, 2009 by 25 women. The 233-kg-Kubba was spread on a 5-meter-diameter tray.
  • Biggest plate: The biggest ceramic plate was created by the Inatsu Town Planning Association, Mizunami, Gifu, Japan on 14 August 1996, measured 2.8 m (9 ft 2 in) in diameter. Made from 1,220kg (2,689 lb 10 oz) of clay, it was left to dry out for five months before being painted and finally baked in a kiln for seven days.
  • Largest box of doughnuts The largest box of doughnuts is a Krispy Kreme box weighing 135 kg (297 lb 10 oz) and was produced by The Kuwait Food Co. Americana (Kuwait), in Kuwait, Kuwait, on 30 May 2009.
  • Largest serving of fried chicken The largest serving of fried chicken is 580 kg (1,278 lb 11 oz) and was achieved by The Kuwait Food Co. Americana (Kuwait), in Kuwait city, Kuwait, on 30 May 2009.
  • Longest line of hamburgers The longest line of hamburgers is 306.27 m (1,004 ft 10 in) and was achieved by The Kuwait Food Co. Americana (Kuwait), in Kuwait city, Kuwait, on 30 May 2009.

(Source: www.guinnessworldrecords.com)

 

 

enough to feed an army

Biggest plate of chicken biryani: Prepared in Doha, Qatar, on March 29, 2002. It weighed 8.6 tonnes.

Longest piece of marzipan: Prepared in Syria on July 1, 2003, in Aleppo. A total of 225 chefs participated in making the 4.19-tonne piece.

Longest Arabic bread loaf: On November 4, 2008, a team of workers in a bakery in Doha, Qatar, succeeded in producing a 128.5-metre-long bread.

Biggest kibbeh: Produced in Ehden, Lebanon, on August 29, 2009, by 25 women. The 233-kilogramme kibbeh was spread on a 5-metre-diameter tray.

Longest line of hamburgers: The longest line is 306.27 metres and was achieved by the Kuwait Food Co Americana (Kuwait), in Kuwait City on May 30, 2009.

Largest box of doughnuts: A Krispy Kreme box weighing 135 kilogrammes was produced by the Kuwait Food Co Americana (Kuwait), in Kuwait City on May 30, 2009.

Largest serving of fried chicken: 580 kilogrammes was achieved by the Kuwait Food Co Americana (Kuwait), in Kuwait City on May 30, 2009.

Biggest plate: The biggest ceramic plate was created by the Inatsu Town Planning Association, Mizunami, Gifu, in Japan on August 14, 1996. It measured 2.8 metres in diameter. Made from 1,220 kilogrammes of clay, it was left to dry out for five months before being painted and finally baked in a kiln for seven days.

Biggest number of zalabaeh with rice desert: Prepared in Dubai on July 6, 2005.

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