Beth Elise Hawk’s film festival hit is a paean to food as a means of bridging and celebrating cultural difference.
A love letter to the food of the Middle East.
The ebullient Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel – the first Muslim Arab to win Israel’s MasterChef – is on a quest to effect social change through food. She establishes the A-Sham Arabic Food Festival in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, which faces the Mediterranean Sea. The festival invites Arab and Jewish chefs to collaborate in pairs on dishes that celebrate the myriad cultural traditions of the region.
Less riven by the political and religious divisions that mar the peaceful existence of their compatriots to the south, teams of chefs participating in the annual festival unite to exchange family stories, recipes and techniques and to underscore the importance of ‘breaking bread’ across cultures as a meaningful gesture of openness and acceptance.
Conviviality is its own reward when we share a table with others. Breaking Bread offers not only the visual delights of a fascinating foray into rich cultural traditions but also, importantly, imparts a much-needed sense of hopefulness and spirit of uplift in the idea that sharing a meal together in a land as contested as Israel can be an unspoken but simple and profound act of mutual acceptance.
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