Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What does peace taste like? (Hint: Lamb is a good guess!)

Why would Public Radio of Armenia do a report on a culinary team based in Israel?


This photo offers a good clue.


Chef Sarkis Yacoubian, proudly hoisting the red-blue-orange flag of Armenia, is one of four culinary masters who have formed Taste of Peace.


The idea is intriguing as well as mouth-watering: Each of the four represents a different culinary tradition, but all have common elements. Sort of like us humans: different in so many ways, yet very much alike.


Yacoubian, a chef-instructor from Jaffa, makes clear on the team's blog site that his Armenian identity informs his mission of peace.


"My family had to flee their homeland in order to survive and it is because they were able to escape the terrors that awaited them in their village and were able to come to the Middle East that I am here today.


"Because of the bloody and unresolved heritage, which  I share with all Armenians, and because of the life which I have led amongst Palestinians and Israelis in this land, I am fully aware of the consequences such harsh antagonisms have on the human spirit...


"Thinking, knowing and believing that living in peace may be the easiest thing to achieve, I embarked on my mission to gather an elite group of people from both nations who will be able to prove that peace is a handshake away."


Other team members are Charlie Fadida, the Jewish executive chef at the Sheraton Tel Aviv; Arab Christian Johnny Goric, executive chef at the Intercontinental Resort in Jericho; and Muslim Arab Imad Shourbaji, Fadida's sous chef.


It's clear these fellows can cook: They won three gold medals at an international competition in Luxembourg in November.


Can they prove that nothing breaks down barriers and brings people together like food?


Let's hope so.

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