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October 26, 2009

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Lebanon reclaims hummus with record

LEBANESE chefs prepared a plate of hummus weighing over two tons that broke a world record organizers said was held by Israel - a bid to reaffirm proprietorship over the popular Middle Eastern dip.

Lebanon has accused Israel of stealing a host of traditional Middle Eastern dishes, particularly hummus, and marketing them worldwide as Israeli.

Hummus has been eaten in the Middle East for centuries. Its exact origin is unknown, though it's generally seen as an Arab dish. But it is also immensely popular in Israel.

The issue of food copyright was raised last year by the head of Lebanon's Association of Lebanese Industrialists, Fadi Abboud, when he announced plans to sue Israel to stop it from marketing hummus and other regional dishes as Israeli.

But to do that, Lebanon must formally register the product as Lebanese.

Lebanon cites, as an example, a 2002 European Union court ruling that for cheese to be called feta it must be made with Greek sheep and goats milk. That ruling is only valid for products sold in the EU.

About 300 chefs were involved in preparing Saturday's massive plate of hummus in Beirut. The white-uniformed chefs used 1,350 kilograms of mashed chickpeas, 400 liters of lemon juice and 26kg of salt to make the dish, weighing 2,056kg.

Representative from the Guinness Book of World Records presented Abboud with a certificate verifying Lebanon had broken the previous record.

A similar attempt to set a new world record will be held for the largest serving of tabbouleh, a salad made of chopped parsley and tomatoes, that Lebanon also claims as its own.


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