Lebanon sets third Guinness food record

by AFP/Natacha Yazbeck, Jan 7, 2010 | Destinations: Lebanon

BEIRUT - While Lebanon may be far from adept at making governments, food is another matter: on Sunday (October 25, 2009) Lebanese chefs came together to break a third Guinness record for food this year -- this time with tabbouleh.

Under the watch of a Guinness adjudicator, 250 sous-chefs and their 50 bosses from a private culinary school chopped and sliced over three and a half tonnes (7,000 pounds) of the salad, using 1,600 kilogrammes (3,520 pounds) of parsley, 1,500 kilogrammes (3,300 pounds) of ripe tomatoes and 420 kilogrammes (926 pounds) of onions.

The tabbouleh record came only a day after Lebanon broke a Guinness record with a two-tonne serving of the chickpea-based dip hummus.

The tiny Mediterranean country -- which has yet to see a government formed over four months after a general election -- also set a record in August for the largest ever kebbe, a dish of minced meat and cracked wheat.

National songs blared from loudspeakers as the white-clad cooks mixed the tabbouleh into a mega-sized pottery dish on Sunday cheered on by thousands of onlookers, some waving Lebanese flags.

"Hummus comes from where? Tabbouleh comes from where?" asked the event host on a microphone.

"From here, from Lebanon," screamed the crowds in response. "One hundred percent Lebanese!"

A battle over hummus and tabbouleh between Lebanon and Israel -- two neighbours still technically at war -- emerged last year and efforts have been underway ever since to clearly identify such dishes as exclusively Lebanese.

Both hummus and tabbouleh, as well as other treats such as baba ghannouj, an eggplant dip, are widely popular in Lebanon, Israel and around the globe.

"El Hommos Lebnaneh & Tabbouleh Kamen (Hummus is Lebanese and Tabbouleh is too) is an attempt to break the current Guinness world records of hummus and tabbouleh, reaffirming the Lebanese proprietorship of these two dishes," said a statement issued by the industrialist association and food syndicate, which planned the weekend events.

"It's pretty much common knowledge that I don't back down," said Fadi Abboud, who heads the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, just before the results were announced.

"And this time, I'm not stepping down."

Lebanese industrialists have said their case was similar to the one over feta cheese in which a European Union court ruled in 2002 that feta is exclusively Greek.

They argue that just as France and Scotland have succeeded in protecting their geographical appelation rights for sparkling wine from Champagne and Scotch whisky, so should Lebanon for some of its dishes.

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