SPEA Scholars reflect on “Hummus and Happiness”
November 5th the Center for Interfaith Cooperation partnered with the Indy Jewish Community Relations Committee, the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, and the CANDLES holocaust Museum and Education Center to present the Spirit & Place event, “Hummus and Happiness.” Skyler Wood, Sam Strattman, and Derek Rogers — students in IUPUI’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs — attended and shared these observations.
Something I learned about Hummus is that so many cultures enjoy it in the Middle East that it has been prepared hundreds of different ways. For example, both Jews and Muslims love hummus, and it can be made chunky, smooth, with meat, without meat, and more.
Something that made me curious was seeing so many people of different faiths and backgrounds coming together peacefully to enjoy Hummus and watch a movie. This made me wonder why the situation in the Middle East is so bad today if all it takes to bring people together is their common enjoyment of hummus.
The event started with a hummus tasting. There were about six contestants who each prepared their best variation of hummus. I started by going around and tasting the offerings at all the different hummus tables, and placing a chic pea at the table I liked the best. Then, after everyone had been around to try all the hummus, there was a film about hummus in Israel and Palestine. This film was meant to show how the different cultures in the middle east all enjoy hummus, despite their obvious political differences.
The event could have done a better job at presenting the film. There were a lot of Muslim people there and there was also a group who had pro-Palestine on their shirts. This was obviously going to be a problem when the movie they picked was from an Israeli film director and was primarily set in Israel. Additionally, the disc they chose to play didn’t even work and we had to skip the end. I feel like the presenters should have explained their troubles in finding an unbiased movie before they played it for the audience.
At the beginning of the event, participants walked around sampling different hummus provided by locals who make it. Some recipes had been passed down for generations while other people just enjoyed making hummus for fun. After you tasted all the hummus, you voted on which one was your favorite. There were two winners, one was a voters choice winner and one was voted on by the judges.
After everyone tasted the hummus, a brief documentary was played in which the director was trying to find the best hummus in Israel and parts of West Bank. Life and Hummus set out to find the origins of hummus, and although the origin is still unknown, the documentary shed light on the fact that Arabs and Jews who fight over religious land often can all agree on one thing: hummus is the best snack. In the documentary one hummus chef even said he doesn’t care if he’s serving Arabs or Jews, he was still going to serve them his delicious hummus. This shows that people do care about other people.
After the documentary, three panelists were brought up to discuss their thoughts about the documentary as well as their experience growing up around hummus. They also answered some questions at the end.
Perhaps the most interesting thing that happened during the whole event came at the end when people were allowed to ask the panelists questions. A woman sitting in front of me decided to ask the tough question, a bold move at a hummus event. She talked about how the hummus idea is great and all, but touched on the fact that local Palestinians are still treated very bad and Palestine is an extremely dangerous environment for people to live in. While I understand where she was coming from with her question, I feel as if this wasn’t the event to talk about it.
The event seems like it was held to show the comparisons these two religions that don’t like each other share. Her question was very strong and she was obviously passionate about the topic. However, I don’t believe that the panelists were prepared for a question like that.
While it was indeed a very good question to ask, she had to have known that she wasn’t going to get the answer she was wanting. The event was a very nice event to attend and I would recommend it to people. It did a great job of bringing different cultures together over the same food: hummus. It shed light on issues that are going on in other countries. The documentary itself did a great job of showing what it’s like to live in Israel and eat the local hummus. It also did a great job of tying in a scary topic into a lighthearted documentary.
The first event I attended this year was about how to help nonprofits with effective demographic research, so this one was my first truly cultural based event. I was definitely impressed with how many people came out tonight in the support of the event, you can tell that the interchurch community takes a lot of pride in their events, and making sure all groups or types of people in attendance feel welcomed.
The event was put on by four different local cultural groups who of course get along well amongst each other, but historically have seen many differences in policy ideologies. This cooperation shows that the interfaith church is truly bringing multiple different kinds of people with different backgrounds together for a better cause, and spread a great message.
The event tonight started out with the Hummus tasting. I personally am a HUGE fan of hummus and can eat buckets full of it if there’s enough of it, so I was very excited to try hummus from people who actually handmade it instead of the stereotypical factory hummus we’re used to. The hummus at this event was definitely some of the best hummus I’ve ever had. You could tell just by looking at it that it was different than the hummus I’ve had prior. The hummus at tonight’s event was noticeably lighter and fluffier if you will than the hummus I’m used to. Flavor tonight was also off the charts good.
Following the tasting was the documentary, the documentary was a short documentary that was forty minutes. The purpose of the documentary was to show people the possibilities that food has to bring people of different backgrounds, religion, and race together to be able to enjoy something that they both have despite all of their differences. The documentary that was played wasn’t the presenters first choice of documentary, the ones suggested prior to the one shown were turned down by a committee due to cultural insensitivity because of certain maps displayed during the film. With the prior knowledge of a new documentary being played I was interested to see if this one had any conflicting or triggering content.
The documentary started out with the host of the documentary explaining his relationship with Israel and the hummus making part of the world. He grew up in the states but his parents were from there and his dad remained reasonably involved in politics involving that region. The documentary got going on the quest to find the best hummus place in the region.
They ended up traveling to many of the major cities in this area to try their hummus, while at the hummus places they’d interview the cook or one of the owners about their experiences with humus and where they came from. The documentary finished up with asking where hummus comes from to find out, we don’t know where it comes from but it brings us all together.
After the documentary was the panel discussion. The panel consisted of a pretty fair balance with regards to beliefs on issues. Questions about the mistreatment of Palestine refugees were brought up with some anger behind them but were fielded well by the panel.