This week, we found some much-needed comic relief in the most unexpected of places – Capitol Hill, United States. After a reporter tweeted that US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren had dined together in Washington DC, the Twittersphere went crazy. Yet the online sensation was not over the mere occurance of their luncheon, but rather over the tongue-in-cheek detail later revealed by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez:
What began its life as an unremarkable update on two of the most closely monitored political figures on the US political landscape suddenly evolved into a hot topic and raised a whole host of questions. Where did they eat labneh? What else did their (perhaps Arabic-themed?) meal comprise? And going back to basics, for a seemingly significant portion of the public, what even is labneh?
BREAKING: I had to look up 'labneh'— Jarrett Bellini (@JarrettBellini) 28 March 2019
Our Middle Eastern culinary delight took centre stage, not only on Twitter but on search engine giant Google.
Google Trends showed us that search traffic for “labneh”, a search term with an otherwise fairly low profile, skyrocketed on the day of the tweet (28 March), with the surge beginning somewhere around 3pm EST.
The search traffic was, unsurprisingly, concentrated in America’s political epicentre: Washington DC. There was, however, a similar rise in searches across the East Coast.
As a result of the Twitter storm, the search term "where to buy labneh" showed a 600-percent increase in search traffic since the same time one year ago, the phrase "what is labneh" saw a 250-percent hike in searches and searches for "zaatar" shot up by 130 percent.
We'll be here waiting for reports of a spike in visits to Middle Eastern restaurants in Washington DC. For now, enjoy a selection of the best responses, plucked straight from the Twittersphere.
With or without pita, details sis?— Mohamed Salih (@MohamedMOSalih) 28 March 2019