Beyond Hummus and Falafel: Social and Political Aspects of Palestinian Food in Israel

Beyond Hummus and Falafel: Social and Political Aspects of Palestinian Food in Israel

Beyond Hummus and Falafel: Social and Political Aspects of Palestinian Food in Israel

Beyond Hummus and Falafel: Social and Political Aspects of Palestinian Food in Israel

Synopsis

"Beyond Hummus and Falafel" is the story of how food has come to play a central role in how Palestinian citizens of Israel negotiate life and a shared cultural identity within a tense political context. At the household level, Palestinian women govern food culture in the home, replicating tradition and acting as agents of change and modernization, carefully adopting and adapting mainstream Jewish culinary practices and technologies in the kitchen. Food is at the center of how Arab culture minorities define and shape the boundaries and substance of their identity within Israel.

Excerpt

A couple of months after my book came out in Israel, I received a phone call from a Palestinian journalist who works for a major local television station. “We need to talk,” he said in a tone I could not interpret with certainty. Having done many interviews as part of my research, I tried to get a sense of what the conversation was going to be about. He was, after all, the first and only Palestinian journalist who had expressed interest in my book.

More than being concerned about the nature of our talk, I was curious. a number of blog comments written by Palestinians in reference to reviews of my book were quite critical, to say the least, about the fact that a Jewish woman “dared writing about our food,” as they put it. “We are tired of being folklorized and looked down on,” said others. It made me feel uncomfortable. I had not intended to folklorize Palestinian food culture nor to look down on it while also capitalizing on it. If there was one thing I was proud of, it was my success in detaching Palestinian culinary knowledge from its folklorized version and constructing its narrative in a way that included all its complexities and hidden political dimensions.

“Why did you want to talk to me?” was my first question to the Palestinian journalist when we finally met. He looked a little uncomfortable as he told me that, upon receiving my book from a Jewish friend, he, too, had bristled at the idea of his culinary narrative being written by a Jewish scholar. He was tired of being an object of seien-

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