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Keywords:

  • [food;
  • national food;
  • hummus;
  • Israel;
  • Arab–Jewish relations;
  • cultural transfer;
  • Middle East]

ABSTRACT

In this article, I examine the “cultural biography” of hummus in Israel from the Mandate period to the present, focusing on the changing place of Arabness in the signification of the dish. Contrary to accounts that regard food consumption as metonymic of political relations, I argue that, because food items move in several fields, both their consumption and signification are overdetermined processes. Rather than taking hummus to be the essential “food of the Other,” I show that the Arab identity of hummus functions as a resource, employed by social actors embedded in various political, social, and economic projects.