Hummus: The making of an Israeli culinary cult

Dafna Hirsch, Ofra Tene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hummus - an Arab dish adopted by Jews in Israel and made into a 'national dish' and a culinary cult - was first industrialized in Israel in 1958. In this article we look at the impact of the food industry on shaping both consumption patterns and the signification of the dish. Contrary to accounts that contrast mass production to authenticity and tradition, fast to slow food, globalized trade to local production, we regard the industrial and the artisanal as interdependent and mutually constitutive realms of production and consumption. We argue, first, that the Israeli food industry has played a crucial role in turning hummus into a national symbol and a culinary cult. Second, we argue that the growing popularity of industrial hummus not only did not replace the consumption of artisanal hummus, but the other way around. Third, we argue that the industry is simultaneously an agent of globalization and of localization of hummus: it expands the spread of hummus globally and at the same time it sometimes tries to fix to it a local ('national') identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-45
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In conducting research for this article we benefited from Dafna Hirsch’s Israel Science Foundation research grant (no. 43/11) and the Open University of Israel research grant for new faculty. We wish to thank Netta Kaminsky, Ronit Liberman and Matan Boord for their research assistance, and Miri Eisin for her help with language. We are grateful to Yuval Yonay, Tamar Berkay and the anonymous reviewers of the Journal of Consumer Culture for their helpful comments. We also wish to thank all the hummus producers, consumers and experts who were willing to share their knowledge and time with us.


  • Israel
  • artisanal food
  • food industry
  • globalization
  • hummus


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