Hummus and Falafel
For those in search of the border between Anatolia and Syria, “the hummus belt” is certainly as good a candidate as any. Though chickpeas have long been widely consumed throughout the Middle East and South Asia and are one of the major agricultural products of modern Turkey, the creamy dish known in English as hummus (the word for chickpea in Arabic) and mumbbaba in Arabic is historically only to be found in Greater Syria and the southernmost regions of Turkey such as Antakya and Antep. (elsewhere in Turkey, it is sometimes eaten as a meze, but never a main course) For this reason, Hummus will always be considered a quintessentially Arab dish, much to the chagrin of Israelis, vegans, and an increasing number of "non-ethnics." Hummus with tahini is mentioned in Arabic cookbooks dating back to the Abbasid period. The main ingredients of hummus are crushed chick peas, tahini (a sesame paste), olive oil, garlic, salt and lemon, and spices such as sumac and cumin as well as additions like meat and pine nuts. Interestingly, the fried friend of hummus, falafel, is also specialty of the Mashriq. Its cousin, tamiya, is one of the most basic Egyptian treats, but this dish's primarily fava bean base belies a thin marker of culinary difference between Egypt and its neighbors to the East.