Summary: Though hummus restaurants have historically been founded and run by men in Arab and Jewish Israeli cultures, Arin Abu-Hamid Kurdi now runs a popular hummus shop in Old Acre.
In both Arab and Jewish-Israeli cultures, hummus restaurants have always been a male-dominated enterprise but one woman, Arin Abu-Hamid Kurdi, is working to change that. She works behind the counter of the blue hummus shop in Old Acre.
Though she currently runs the blue hummus shop next to the lighthouse, it still bears her father’s name—Al-Abed Abu-Hamid’s Hummus.
“My father was one of the first restaurant owners in Acre,” she said. “Abu Christo opened the first restaurant on the sea wall in 1948 and my father opened Hagalil restaurant in 1958, in Saladin Square at the entrance to the shuk. In 1977 the restaurant moved to this location, next to the lighthouse, and was called the Lighthouse restaurant.”
Many people now refer to the restaurant using Arin Abu-Hamid Kurdi’s name now, though, as she continued the business. Historically, hummus restaurants started in larger cities to supply food to laborers, either as they were setting out on their workday as to serve as a take-home meal at the end of their day. These restaurants were for men, and Arab women would only sit in such places with their husbands.
Because it was men who opened these restaurants, they served food they knew how to make, which was usually masculine—grilled skewers of meat, fried fish and hummus. This left many intricate home-style dishes of local Arab cuisine off of menus, but that is starting to change. Arin Abu-Hamid Kurdi now serves specialties like thiridi and mufarakeh, which until now were found almost exclusively in women’s home kitchens.
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