Food fight: A battle over baklava
I love food tours. You get to learn all about food and the history behind certain dishes. While participating in a food tour in Athens, I've learned about the not so violent battle between 3 countries (Greece, Turkey and Cyprus) about who invented the baklava.
We were on the terrace of a family-owned pastry shop who specializes in baklava, tasting different types of said dessert, when our guide informed us of this very important conflict. And our guide was talking about the history of the family who owns the shop.
That family's story is representative of a piece of Greek history. They were originally a Greek family who moved to Turkey during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. When Greece gained its independence, Turkey sent back the Greeks who had immigrated to their country, Greece did the same with the Turks. We're talking about families who had been living abroad for generations.
These Greeks brought Turkish traditions and customs with them, and so did the Turks who went back. This is why it's hard to determine with certainty who came up with the recipe first.
The battle over baklava reached a high point in 2006 when the European Union declared Cyprus as its country body origin. People in both Turkey and Greece side eyed the EU.
And I just had to throw some oil in the fire. I can be like that some times. Especially when it's a food fight!
So I told my guide that while I appreciated her story. I know one people who would totally disagree with her: the Lebanese. I explained that if there is one thing my Fake Lebanese Friend* knows about his culture is that his people invented baklava.My guide laughed.
*I called him that because, at the time, he hadn't been to Lebanon yet while both his parents were born there. No shade, all love. He went to Lebanon for the first time. Had the time of his life. Shared tons of photos that made me move Lebanon at the top of my list. I shared a few on my Facebook page.
I told her that while in Greece, I'd totally agree with their claim on baklava. I didn't want to offend anyone. I also said that I totally get it.
Let's be real. As a Haitian, I call dibs on the invention of bannann peze (fried plantains). I don't care that other people have been growing plantains for centuries. The idea to cut them, deep fry them, press them and deep fry them again: that's all us, boo. Fried plantains have Boyo Kiskeya Ayiti written all over them. See what I did there, I've used Haiti's full name. And you know I'm not playing when I use first, middle AND last name.
My guide laughed some more.
At first, I thought I'd research the subject, dig a little more to find the truth before writing this. But I've met up with my (no longer fake) Lebanese friend. And he brought me these. All the way from Lebanon.
So, I've decided to side with him.
Baklavas came from Lebanon. Peace out!