How to Eat Your Way to Peace in the Middle East

By Lulu Kalman
We invited Israeli-American chef Lulu Kalman to document her favorite dishes from both Jewish and Arab cultures.

The fight over who invented hummus goes back ages. Chickpeas have been around for 9,000-ish years and hummus has been around for just about as long -- crusaders even snacked on it. But it wasn't until the 20th century that the baby carrot came into play. I don't know when everyone started bickering over who invented hummus but the debate wages on. Arabs say it was their invention. Israelis beg to differ. I can't say who's right, but I do know that when I want really great hummus in Israel, I head out to an Arab restaurant.

It's a muddy line that differentiates the food of Israel and Palestine. If I try to separate out the cuisines in terms of Arab or Jewish then I think of falafel, tabouleh, pita, eggplant, yogurt and lamb as Arab food and gefilte fish, chicken soup, challah, knishes and chopped liver as Jewish food. But that's barely apples to apples. It's like comparing the Jewish food of Eastern Europe to Arabic food in the Middle East. And really, there is so much more. There are Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews and there are Muslim, Christian and Jewish Arabs. For me, the food of Israel and Palestine is that of the entire Levant. The traditions and religions of each culture shape the food on the plate, but the land and the geography determine the ingredients in the kitchen.

Katz's Deli New York, NY

Gefilteria New York, NY

Café Noir Tel Aviv, Israel

Muchan Ve Mezuman B'nei Brak, Israel

At Home New York, NY

B&H Dairy New York, NY

Ein Gev Kibbutz Ein Gev, Israel

The Old Man and The Sea Jaffa, Israel

Gabi's Bourek at the Carmel Market. Tel Aviv, Israel

Hummus Asli Jaffa, Israel

Tsachi Tsameret Bat Yam, Israel

Tanoreen Restaurant Brooklyn, NY

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