by Leah Koenig

Beyond Hummus & Halva

Navigating the politics and pleasures of Israeli cuisine.

In October 2008, a Lebanese businessman named Fadi Abboud accused the State of Israel of stealing traditional Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and falafel by claiming them as Israeli. Abboud’s intent to stick the Lebanese flag in a plate of baba ghannouj is clearly symptomatic of larger strife in the region. But it also indicates the intensely prideful connections we as individuals and societies so often make between “our” food and our identities. Amidst this cross-cultural food fight, Janna Gur’s cookbook, The Book of New Israeli Food (Schocken, $35), comes as a welcome taste of relief.

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