Haifa’s Hummus & Culture of Coexistence:
Street Food With a Local
During my first night out in Haifa I was out with a friend who introduced me an international tour manager and travel blogger named Fadi. He also happens to be a huge foodie. We started talking talking the local cuisine, specifically Haifa’s hummus, and it was clear I had a lot to learn about how important this dish is in Israel.
Everyone seems to have their favorite place for hummus. In fact, a majority of a conversation someone in Haifa may have with a friend could involve arguing about where they will meet up to enjoy their favorite dish. This is partially for fun but also because that’s just how passionate people in Haifa can get about this traditional staple of a meal.
Days later, I had an opportunity to sit down with Fadi and chat some more, along with lots of hummus of course. He chose a place called Hummus Fadi. (It’s not his own restaurant, just a coincidence with the name.)
1. How long have you lived in Haifa?
I’ve been in Haifa my whole life. Nearly 25 years.
2. How did you find out about Hummus Fadi?
Everyone I know keeps talking about it. I wanted to give it a try for the first time today with you to give it a try.
3. What’s so special about Haifa’s hummus?
Hummus is not only a food, it includes social aspects in connecting people, even if they disagree in their political issues. It’s a communal national meal dish for several nationalities. Hummus is easy to make, very simple and cheap.
4. If you have a couple of things to tell people about why they should visit Haifa what would they be?
Haifa is a city where you should live the daily life of the city and feel the vibe. In addition, it’s home for multiple cultures, nationalities and religions. They live side by side and they could prove real co-existence may be possible.
Humus Fadi, 4 Ha’Bankim, Haifa, Israel
Our first round of hummus is known as mshawashe. With some added tahini, it has a lighter color and richer flavor. Whole garbanzo beans were mixed in as well, with a dash of parsley and olive oil. Fresh pita, raw onion and pickled cucumbers, olives and cauliflower were served on the side. This was the first time I had this dish and greatly enjoyed it.
Our second course was traditional hummus with ground beef and lamb in the center. It was served with some extra tahini, garbanzo beans, olive oil and parsley on top. This was some of the best hummus I’ve ever had. We just kept eating and eating. All this great hummus made for a memorable lunch indeed.
If you don’t happen to speak Hebrew (I unfortunately do not), here’s a picture of the front of Fadi Hummus. I recommend stopping in and paying them a visit. The service and interaction from the owners was memorable and I plan to stay in touch with them.
Coexistence in Haifa
During my time in Haifa I learned that in the midst of a country told by decades of conflict, this city is a model for co-existence in the land of Israel. Some examples include the Seeds of Peace Center for Coexistence and Beit Hagefen, an Arab-Jewish cultural, community and youth center. Even the Bahai Gardens, built by a religion based on peace and coexistence can be found here.
Fadi talked a lot about neighbors being of different religion groups and how they lived side by side peacefully in Haifa. The people of Haifa share friendships and bowls of hummus together, regardless of their politics and beliefs. For these reasons, Haifa has become a bit of a shining star of peace and coexistence for the state of Israel. It shows that peace is possible. This is also at a time when stabbings, shootings and vehicles running people down have become all too common in Jerusalem, just 95 miles (150km) to the southeast.
My conversation with Fadi made me wonder. Did Haifa’s centers for coexistence, integrated neighborhoods and shared bowls of hummus happen first, in order to bring about peace? Or did Haifa’s mindset and commitment to tolerance and peace from the begi
nning bring about the rest? Does peace begin with a mindset and commitment?
Like many things in Israel, these are complex questions. I do know one thing, though. If more people across Israel took the time to get to know their neighbors like Fadi does, sharing a bowl of hummus could go a long way.
A huge thank you to Fadi for taking time out of his busy day to chat about these issues and enjoy some great food! Please check out his site!
L’Chaim! (Cheers in Hebrew)
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