LONDON: A fattoush “party platter” recipe released by The Washington Post on July 24 has been described as a “travesty” by Arabs online.
“How to turn Middle Eastern fattoush into a party platter” shows readers how to transform the Levantine dish into a party platter by arranging the ingredients separately rather than tossing them together.
Although the author of the article, Joe Yonan, describes the traditional dish as a “casual, throw-together-what-looks-good kind of affair,” he introduces a deconstructed version of fattoush, inspired by Alice Zavlasky, a cookbook author responsible for the “blasphemy” against the salad, as one Arab commenter described the recipe.
Zavlasky proposes arranging the ingredients on a platter for guests to combine as they wish, and goes as far as adding chickpeas — an ingredient never before added to the dish — for protein and to transform the dish into a main course.
The recipe received heavy criticism on Arab Twitter. Marwan Francis tweeted: “They mean well, but this a travesty against fattoush!”
Another twitter user, Farah Silvana Kanaan, said “…there are no chickpeas in fattoush, ‘deconstructed’ or not!”
Magda Abu Fadil voiced her opinion: “Beyond blasphemy! That’s not how you make fattoush and certainly not how it’s served.”
The Washington Post’s own Beirut-based correspondent Sarah Dadouch humorously tweeted: “Betrayed by my own.”
Fattoush, the popular Levantine salad, is said to hail from northern Lebanon. It typically consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, purslane leaves, radish, green onions, herbs and dashes of sumac. The ingredients are all tossed together, mixed with lemon oil, and topped with small fried pita bread pieces: No chickpeas, no deconstruction.
But should the bastardization of the salad really come as a surprise after the American takeover of hummus? What was once a humble chickpea spread has been transformed into smoothies and desserts, like chocolate and pumpkin hummus.
Perhaps Layla Al-Ammar’s simple tweet of “No” best sums up the Arab reaction to the American take on fattoush.