Lebanon has unveiled the Guinness World Record's largest platter of hummus, taking a victory from Israel. The two countries have been competing for the past few years for the record distinction. Hummus is a staple food of many Middle Eastern countries' cuisines, but both Lebanese and Israelis lay claim to its origin.
Onlookers cheered as the giant ticker screen displaying the hummus' weight passed 4,090 kilograms, a record previously set by Israel in what has become known as "the hummus wars." The ticker stopped at 10,452 kilograms.
While Israel and Lebanon have been officially at war for six decades, this culinary battle begin just a few years ago, when a Lebanese businessman sought to have the European Union register hummus, along with other Middle Eastern foods like falafel and tabouleh, as national dishes.
An event organizer, Chantal Tohme, says it is meant to be a fun occasion, but the participants also want to set the record straight.
"It is more than about the Guinness World Record. It is about proving that hummus is Lebanese," said Tohme. "Because it is being promoted as a non-Lebanese dish, and as an Israeli traditional dish, and it is not. And if we go back to history we see that it came from Lebanon."
Earlier this year, Israelis, who are also passionate about the smooth chick-pea spread, produced the 4,090-kilogram portion of hummus made by 50 chefs and put in a six-meter satellite dish.
Lebanon fought back, as 300 chefs in white coats of the al-Kataaf cooking school mashed up 10-tons of a special recipe for the occasion.
Cooking school Head Chef Ramzi Choueiry explained the ingredients as he poured hummus into a large ceramic dish.
"You have in it olive oil, salt garlic, sesame cream, and specially the chick peas, boiled and crushed," he said.
Sous-chef Alain Abou says it is not just about quantity, it is important for the hummus to taste good as well, even better, of course, than the Israelis' creation.
"All the recipes, we prepare it before, we make it, we check it, so it is very good recipes," said Abou. "We will beat it not in the army, but in the hummus."
"It is a lesson in large-scale catering for students, and if successful, a real reason for Lebanon to be proud," said Guinness World Record judge Jack Brockbank, who flew from England for the event.
And after more than three months of preparation, five hours of mixing, crushing, pouring, or sometimes spilling, he dubbed Lebanon the new record holder, a title that comes not with money, but with much prestige.
However, the Lebanese are not stopping, Chef Ramzi says they now plan to prepare the largest-ever plate of falafel.