You’ve probably espied a bumper sticker encouraging everyone to “Visualize Whirled Peas,” an obvious homophone for “Visualize World Peace.” Some have posited that whirled peas might indeed be the way to world peace. Seriously! I’m speaking, of course, about hummus, a ubiquitous Middle Eastern food typically made of mashed (whirled) chickpeas. There’s a tiny café in Israel employing a unique way to promote reconciliation. The restaurant offers a 50-percent discount to any table in which Arabs and Jews elect to sit together. That’s promoting peace through hummus.
Negotiating world peace over dinner isn’t exactly a novel concept. A New York group named World Peace, One Falafel at a Time aims to bring Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths together over food. The group’s mission statement is clear: Through a shared plate of food we create a common ground that fosters trust and understanding. When people share a simple meal together, boundaries disappear, discussion becomes possible, and healing can begin. We come together not as a meeting of a thousand, but as one hundred meetings of ten.
An article published in the Society page of the New York Times Sunday edition on May 5, 1918 posited that “soap-boxers emitting hatred and trust” may be having trouble with their stomachs which sometimes direct human action more than the mind does.” The writer observed that where there are points of disagreement, a good dinner usually settles them.
So, where is this diatribe headed? Maybe nowhere. Maybe it’s just my reaction to the increased lack of civility (a vast understatement) among politicians and ideologues (on both sides of the aisle) who can’t concede any merit whatsoever about the opposing viewpoint. It’s not enough to disagree with one another’s opinions or choices, dissenters on both sides seem to have a base need to resort to derisive pejoratives and name-calling. All that without ever sitting down and having a discussion about the issues which divide them, without ever attempting to compromise, without ever acknowledging commonalities…
Maybe it’s too simple-minded and naive to suggest all the world’s problems can be solved over a good meal, but it would certainly be a good start. Might I suggest these “two sides of the same coin” politicos attend the next Friends of Gil (FOG) dinner in October. FOG dinners are an exemplar of decorum and civility. FOG members come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wide spectrum of political and ideological viewpoints, but for at least a few hours, we put aside any differences we may have and enjoy what makes us most alike–sharing great food, great conversation, great fun and great friendship.
The most recent FOG dinner was held on Friday, July 29th at the Juan Tabo location of Piatanzi, a fantastic Italian restaurant specializing in fabulous small plate Italian creations. Twenty-something FOG members, including several first-timers and “another Gil” (we might have been separated at birth) enjoyed a sumptuous repast, several of us staying past closing time.
Kudos to Jim Millington and his beautiful Child Bride for putting together another terrific FOG evening. Barb White has graciously volunteered to organize our next outing in October. Look for details on this blog.