Why Ina Garten's Latest Salad Recipe Is Causing A Stir

Ina Garten posted about a new salad recipe this week that is drawing criticism from some of her followers. On July 28 Garten made an Instagram post about an "Israeli vegetable salad." "TOO HOT TO COOK WEEK... It's so satisfying and you don't even have to turn the oven on," read the post. The salad consisted of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and red onion that was lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon, salt, and mint before being served over a platter of freshly made hummus. The bright and colorful salad earned plenty of praise from the Barefoot Contessa host's fans, but it also drew criticism from others. Some fans claimed that the dish was misnamed as an "Israeli salad."

​"This is completely palestinian [sic.]! Please don't steal our food!" wrote one commenter. There were other comments referring to the dish as Lebanese and Egyptian as well. "At least say Middle Eastern." wrote another commenter. As of August 1, Garten has not updated the post or made any type of statement regarding the recipe. Garten has claimed to avoid politics in the past, though she made an exception to speak out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Israeli and Arab cultures are in a long, heated conflict

The Arabian and Israeli cultures that both lay claim to land on the Mediterranean's Eastern coast have been in conflict ever since Israel was founded more than 60 years ago following World War II (via Washington Post). That's why it can be so upsetting for people to see their cultural heritage attributed to another, especially when it can be interpreted as part of the larger conflict.

Foods such as falafel, hummus, and shawarma are often attributed to the region, and claimed by Arabs and Israelis alike, per Hummus 101. As a result, these dishes then become the center pieces for cultural battles. In a The Washington Post Perspective article, Palestinian writer Reem Kassis says that calling food Israeli "erases us [Palestinians] from history." Israel-born actor Salim Dau said in an interview with Haaretz that "there is no Israeli cuisine... The food they call 'Israeli' is not Israeli. It's Syrian, Jordanian, Palestinian." As a public persona, Garten's followers wanted more sensitivity and awareness brought to her fun summer recipe. As one commenter wrote, "I hate to make this political but you can't come up with such names without doing some research of the region and get your info straight," or as another simply writes, "Do better, Ina."