It is a well known and widely accepted fact that Abu Gosh is the hummus capital of the world. Imagine! A place in the world where the biggest dispute centers on who makes the best hummus.
Hummus!! To make matters even more amazing, let it be known that Abu Gosh is a small hillside town where both Israelis and Palestinians live smack in the middle of Israel. Israel!!!
On the one hand, it is charming that in the midst of a place as fraught with conflict as the modern State of Israel, human beings can stream their energy into a good natured, and relatively benign, though robust, cooking contest.
'Would that one day...someone creates a hummus so perfect, like manna, that the myth that Israel and Ishmael are enemies will be debunked once and for all.'
On the other hand it is predictable that even something as innocent (and subjective) as good hummus can be fodder for heated jousting.
Oh, yeah, it gets heated. The creamy contingent derides the chunky aficionados. The spicey and tart lovers mock the delicate and subtle fans. The battle cries ascend:
“ Too much sesame! Unacceptable!”
“So salty!! Inedible!”
“Too runny!”; “Shah, too dry!!!”
Meanwhile the humble chick pea—boiled, mashed, mixed, spread and devoured—fills the gullets of a nation torn by eons of brokenness and conflict. Decades of misunderstanding , anxiety and frustration drive Jewish and Arab jaws. They gnash strips of ripped pita slathered with chickpea mortar, stimulating bile and acid to flow -- necessary if the whole mess is ever going to disintegrate into useable parts.
Like Hillel’s sandwich, simple bread is smeared with a much beloved concoction representing both poverty and satisfaction. Would that one day, in Abu Gosh, someone hits on the perfect recipe; creates a hummus so perfect, like manna, that the myth that Israel and Ishmael are enemies will be debunked once and for all. An innocent hope, yes, that a food as ubiquitous and mean as Hummus could release the best in conflicted peoples; could be the mortar that binds those broken brothers back together. But who knows? If anybody, perhaps it is the people of Abu Gosh.
And with that I wish everyone a very Happy International Hummus day!