Hummus unity in Argentina

Hummus unity in Argentina

Beyzanur Ors, a native of Turkey, won the contest. (Courtesy of Muslim and Jewish Fans of Hummus)
Beyzanur Ors, a native of Turkey, won the contest. (Courtesy of Muslim and Jewish Fans of Hummus)

Shanah tovah!

The year 5778 is upon us, and we at the Jewish Standard wish you and yours a wonderful, healthy, happy, and perhaps-not-quite-as-newsy new year.

“Make Hummus, Not War.”

That was the message behind a recent cook-off that brought local Jews and Muslims, together in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s bustling capital city.

On Sunday, 20 amateur chefs participated in a hummus-making competition at the Tetuan Moroccan Grill, a restaurant in the trendy Palermo Soho neighborhood. About 300 people showed up to see judges name a winner of what unofficially was dubbed the First World Championship of Hummus.

The cook-off was less about competition and more about bringing people of different cultures and religions together through the food they all love.

But there was a winner: Myriam Kabbara, who runs an Islamic school in Buenos Aires.

“We all want to respect each other,” Beynazur Ors said. A native of Turkey, her colorful hummus contained beet and red cabbage.

Her husband, Burak, agreed.

“We all want another event like this, more time to cook and eat together,” he said.

Though it may have been the first hummus competition of its kind in Buenos Aires, the evening germinated over the course of informal get-togethers with members of the Latin American Jewish Congress and young local Muslims. The group started three years ago simply by getting coffee or tea together, but soon members invited each other to Passover and Iftar dinners. The hummus contest was an offshoot of the group, but while members of the Latin American Jewish Congress attended, there was little institutional presence.

“Instead of importing conflicts, we are exporting coexistence,” Luciano Safdie, who like the event’s other organizers wore a “Make Hummus, Not War” T-shirt, said at the end of the night.

The judges were Matias Cedarbojm, a former Jewish contestant on Argentina’s version of “MasterChef”; Gustavo Massud, owner of an Arab restaurant in Buenos Aires called Al Shark; and Argentine chef Victor Manuel Garcia.

Joan Noejovich, a local Jewish man, made it to the semifinals.

“I prepared a Druze recipe with ingredients all imported from Israel,” he said.

His version fared better than one prepared by an Israeli expat from Jerusalem named Adi, who didn’t want to give his last name.

Massud, who said that half of his restaurant’s customers are Arabs and half are Jews, loved Noejovich’s hummus but said that in the end he voted for Ors because it had “the flavor of food made by a mother.”

Kabbara, the winner, had a blast at the event. “I enjoyed the spirit,” she said. “I never had a problem with Jewish people, and I think it is very good to show that we Jews and Muslims can be friends.”

JTA Wire Service

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