It’s called gastrodiplomacy, and it’s about expanding perspective and winning hearts through the stomach. Nowhere is it better exampled than in filmmaker Beth Elise Hawk’s documentary Breaking Bread, about the A-Sham festival. A-Sham is a three day celebration of Arabic and regional food that takes place every year in Haifa, the city where Jews and Arabs have lived side by side since the 1930s, becoming the most tolerant and open-hearted metropolis in Israel.

Breaking Bread is centered on one woman, the creator of the festival. The passion project and brainchild of Muslim Arab chef Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, the woman who was the first Arab Muslim to win Israel’s Master Chef, the A-Sham festival celebrates regional and Levantine cuisine and partners Jewish and Arab chefs to create meals together. The Levant is the region that was broken apart by colonizers, known today as Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and the Hatay Province of Turkey. A-Sham brings together chefs, all masters and artisans, with different political or religious beliefs who share the love of great food. Many of them are creating dishes handed down through generations of family.

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