Israeli Culture – It’s ‘Not About Hummus’

Drenched in olive oil, sprinkled with fragrant Zaatar, spotted with earthy pine nuts, heaped with rich ground beef, spiked with fiery pepper, blanketed with creamy tehina, hummus is one of Israel’s most beloved ethnic foods. From the grocery store to the gourmet restaurant, hummus of varying types and qualities is ubiquitous. Hummus_Pic_01 Though a simple spread, hummus is produced by companies and chefs across the country who enjoy loyalty for their special blends, with true maestros boasting long lines of uncharacteristically patient eaters streaming out of their restaurant doors, ready to slow the pace of their day for the chance to savor an expertly prepared, swirling plate of the artisan chickpea delight. In a country rarely at rest from the war of ideas, Israel somehow always agrees on hummus, a familiar fare for Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze from Metulla to Eilat, from Umm el-Fahm to Abu-Ghosh. Hummus_Pic_02In my new documentary film, Not About Hummus (working title), five famous hummus makers share their personal stories and their love of hummus, uncovering the reality of life in Israel and the country’s multi-cultural communities. Is bringing together Israel’s diverse communities as simple as one perfect plate?

Our film crew traveled across the country to meet with Israel’s famed hummus masters, each of whom claim that they make a great chickpea spread.

In the age-old alleyways of Acco, we met with a Muslim Arab master hummus maker, a woman who took over the family business and developed one of the most successful hummus establishments in Northern Israel. In the mountains of the Galil, we followed a Breslover Hasid who makes and sells his own blend, the only kosher hummus between Tel Aviv and Haifa. In Ramle, we followed a Christian Arab family whose hummus restaurant – located in a 700 year old building – has been operating since 1948. We met with a Druze family in Daliyat El-Carmel who travel around Israel selling hummus and their Druze cuisine.

These self-appointed hummus masters are as diverse and colorful as the lands from which they come, and each is driven by a passion to succeed.

Join us on this culinary and ethnic tour of Israel, where hummus is the common denominator between Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze.

About the Author
Oren Rosenfeld worked as a photo journalist covering the second Palestinian Intifada and major news events around the world. Rosenfeld has produced, directed and filmed documentaries and investigative reports with the BBC, National Geographic, the History Channel, and many others.
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