Bowl of hummus and pita bread on a plate

Seeing (and Solving?) Conflict through Food

There are many intersections of food and history.  Previously, we speculated about the oldest dishes known to humanity.  Today, let’s consider the dishes that are claimed by more than one culture.  A recent article by NPR on the “hummus wars” does just that:

Palestinians don’t mind that Lebanon is proud of its hummus, or that Egypt makes hummus as well. This is a dish that brings Arabs together.  But this same dish that unites Arabs doesn’t always have the same effect between Palestinians and Israel.

While the article analyzes the history, culture, and politics of hummus in the Middle East (which is quite a lot to be getting on with!) you can expand that discussion to the United States. While the hummus wars are not fought so fiercely here, Americans adopt and adapt foods in ways that purists might find upsetting. Did you know that as of 2015, 20 percent of American households had hummus?  And they eat it mixed with flavors from other continents (jalapeños, anyone?) as well as the traditional blends.

Such “fusion” foods occur frequently in America — think of the non-traditional California sushi roll, which is an authentically Japanese response to local ingredients.

Image by Alessandro Scotti (
Image by Alessandro Scotti (

Take your students on a culinary field trip through history!  Start with the Internet Project: Columbian Exchange in WorldView Software’s American History I or World History A, which takes students on a curated tour of the processes put in motion by the contact between “old” and “new” worlds, and ends with making a feast.  Experiment with your own fusions of tastes and ingredients, or look for dishes that multiple cultures claim and explore the variations.

BulbgraphOnOffUse an Art gallery image to introduce a lesson or unit by discussing the image’s content, context, artist, and audience.

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Dr. Annelies Kamran is V.P. for Content and Product Development at WorldView Software, Inc.

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