Britons celebrate International Hummus Day, not without controversy

A plate of hummus at Ranoush restaurant, London

A plate of hummus at Ranoush restaurant, London.

Hummus lovers in the UK and beyond are celebrating International Hummus Day.

For hundreds, if not thousands of years, hummus has been a staple of the Middle Eastern diet.

In recent times, however, its origins have been hotly contested.

Israel has claimed it as its own.

But Palestinians and Lebanese argue that Israel has appropriated their hummus and other national dishes like it is appropriating their land.

Palestinians believe their cuisine is deeply tied to the history of their long presence in the area that Israel is colonising and from which Israel is ejecting them.

The fact that an Israeli-American tech entrepreneur, Ben Lang, actually introduced the concept to ‘promote Israel‘ makes this four-year-old holiday controversial for some.

The Palestinian view is that it signifies yet another attempt to improve Israel’s image in the West.

Many people outside the Middle East, however, don’t seem to be aware of these issues, or perhaps the taste and universality of hummus has overwhelmed them.

With some 88 thousand Facebook users recognising the day, Mr Lang’s idea has clearly caught on.

Even celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi have joined others in wishing everyone a happy hummus day.

As an almost daily hummus connoisseur, I spoke to Ibrahim, the head chef at Ranoush restaurant in the Kings Road about his version of the creamy chickpea dip that Britons have readily adopted as their own.

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