Lebanon set the record Saturday for the creation of the largest plate of hummus. About 300 Lebanese chefs in a village about 5 miles east of Beirut came up with a dish weighing 11.5 tons. That's 23,042 pounds of a combination of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil, CNN reported.
On the surface the competition is good-natured, but as with everything in the region, there is an underlying seriousness, because food is culture and culture is existence, observers say.
Because the origin of hummus has been a topic of contentious debate between Lebanese and Israeli producers over who actually created the dish and who has rights to the name, Lebanon wants to settle the matter by having the European Union register hummus as its national dish, CNN said.
"What we have been trying to do is just what the Greeks have done with feta cheese," said Fadi Abboud, president of The Association of Lebanese Industrialists.
The Israelis have a different point of view.
"Trying to make a copyright claim over hummus is like claiming for the rights to bread or wine," said Shooky Galili, an Israeli whose blog, dedicated to all things hummus, bears the motto "give chickpeas a chance."