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‘Breaking Bread’ Review: Peace Meals


“Breaking Bread” opens with a quote from Anthony Bourdain, who said that “food may not be the answer to world peace, but it’s a start.” The premise underlying this documentary, directed by Beth Elise Hawk, is that all cultures can unite over the spectacle of mouthwatering food on camera.

The movie follows preparations for the 2017 A-Sham Festival in Haifa, Israel, an event that celebrates the cuisine of a region where geopolitical boundaries are more defined than culinary ones. At the film’s start, the festival’s founder, Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, identifies herself as a Muslim, an Arab, an Israeli, a Palestinian, a woman, a scientist and a cook (she won the Israeli version of “MasterChef” a few years ago). She says in the film that borders “mean nothing to hummus.”

The contestants live in Israel but come from diverse backgrounds. At the festival they are generally paired with someone whose origins differ from their own to create an assigned dish. For example, Ali Khattib, from an Alawite village in the Golan Heights, and Shlomi Meir, who runs an Eastern European restaurant in Haifa, work together to make a traditionally Syrian soup with a base of bulgur wheat soaked in yogurt.

A lot of the observations in “Breaking Bread” — the repeatedly offered notions that food is a common language or that politics has no place in the kitchen — seem trite and perhaps overly optimistic. The movie would ideally be shown with an accompanying tasting menu.

Breaking Bread
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. In theaters.


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