• Spreading the word on the table - and at events. (The Lebanese Plate)
An Insta meet in Sydney this week is the latest event where this Sydney mum is spreading her message of tolerance.
Alyssa Braithwaite

17 May 2017 - 4:41 PM  UPDATED 17 May 2017 - 4:45 PM

When Sydney mother-of-four Lina Jebeile decided last year to break down cultural barriers by sharing hummus with strangers, she had no idea how far it would spread. 

An Australian-born Muslim of Lebanese heritage, Ms Jebeile hoped to change a few people's perceptions about Australian Muslims by breaking bread - and dipping it in hummus - together.

She had no idea it would eventually see her addressing gatherings not only in Sydney, but interstate. 

"People can be really quick to judge, but when you're already extending your hand in friendship, by offering them a plate of food, people are very unlikley to respond negatively," Ms Jebeile tells SBS.  

A food blogger who goes by the name 'The Lebanese Plate' and has more than 28,000 followers on Instagram,  Ms Jebeile invited strangers into her home for a hummus brunch, to meet and chat and forge new friendships.

"Rather than just spread the #spreadhummusnothate hashtag online, the whole idea behind it was that I get out there and literally spread hummus with people, and let people have the opportunity to sit with an Australian Muslim and just have a chat - not necessarily talk about religion or politics or anything, but just to have a conversation," she says.

here's how it started
Meet the Aussie mum who wants us to spread hummus, not hate
"I want to give people the opportunity to sit down and chat to me and my family over food and just realise that we're just normal, average people going about our lives like everybody else."

"I don't think many people actually get the opportunity to do that, and a lot of what they hear about Australian Muslims is just through the media. I thought what better way to bring people together than with food?"

She has also met with church groups in Sydney who have been supportive of her message, and flew to Brisbane in March to present a hummus-making demonstration with Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

"She's also Lebanese, so we spoke about growing up in Australia and being from a Lebanese background," Ms Jebeile says.

"And people asked questions and they of course got to taste the hummus. So that was really wonderful to be able to meet with this group of totally different people." 

Next is an event at Kepos Street Kitchen in Sydney on Thursday May 18.

Chef and owner Michael Rantissi contacted Ms Jebeile and suggested they do something together because he thought her campaign was a lovely idea to get behind.

"I am Israeli, she's Lebanese, so she is bringing different types of hummus that she would create, [plus there will be] different types of hummus that I create," he tells SBS.

"I think people need to be more understanding about other people, even though they come from different backgrounds and different cultures and different religions, it doesn't mean they're not the same. 

"We're doing this as a trial run to see how people respond to it. It's exciting."

Ms Jebeile admits she has made "a lot" of hummus since starting her campaign, and has even improved her hummus recipe as a result: "I was using canned chickpeas, and now I'm using dried chickpeas and soaking them overnight. I've raised the bar," she says with a laugh.

She originally started #spreadhummusnothate after watching Pauline Hanson's maiden Senate speech last September, in response to what she felt was the increasing volume of right-wing voices in Australia.

And while she doesn't expect to "change the world", she does hope to "change the minds of a few people and get them to see things from someone else's perspective". 

"At least I can look back and say I tried to do something, I didn't just sit and complain about it," she says. "And you don't know what effect that might have.

"From hummus, the most simple of ingredients you can get, this humble dish can work to bring all sorts of people together."

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