With sharp knives at the ready, dozens of people came to Beirut’s Souk el Tayeb market on Saturday (July 7) to battle for the title of 2012’s Best Tabbouleh salad maker.
The salad, which is a mainstay of Lebanese cuisine, is celebrated on the first Saturday of every July branded as ‘National Tabbouleh Day’.
Amin Hasha, who is one of the event organizers, said the competition celebrates Lebanese heritage and promotes local culture.
National Tabbouleh Day was first launched in 2001 and became officially approved by the Ministry of Tourism in 2007. Gastronomes enjoyed a selection of freshly made tabbouleh salads, which event organizers say 'unites a country torn by wars and tension’ through ‘a common identification.’
Competition winner Jameela Nahra said the importance of tabbouleh on her dinner table is never underestimated.
“Tabbouleh is the best decoration and starter in Lebanese cuisine. Every Sunday when we gather around the table for our meal, if there is no Tabbouleh then the meal is not complete, regardless of any other dishes we have on the table,” said Nahra.
The tomato, onion, parsley and lettuce salad is not completely guilt free - in 2008 Lebanon accused Israel of 'stealing' the dish and promoting it as its own.
The “food fight” reached a climax when Lebanese Tourism Minister, Fadi Abboud, warned he would take Israel to court for ownership of the salad, and other dishes including hummus, falafel.