Monday, July 26, 2010

A Hummus Among Us

Flipping through Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions, one discovers that white people love hummus.  They (we) like to keep it in the fridge next to the Brita pitcher.  Truth be told, my hummus is usually on the shelf above the Brita pitcher, but it's still there all the same.  I don't know how, when, or why white people jumped up on the hummus bandwagon.  According to the aforementioned book, we do love adopting other people's cultures. 

I don't know when I had hummus for the first time.  My mother and I would get gyros from a Greek fast food place in the mall, and maybe I had it there first.  Or perhaps at Yum Yum Cafe, where I was first introduced to Chicken Shwarma.  You'd never guess that Yum Yum Cafe was a Middle Eastern restaurant, going by the name alone.  I can thank my friend Jon for taking me there for the first time.  It was a block away from our dorm, and several of us took a little trip.  I've been a sucker for Middle Eastern food ever since.

Where was I?  Oh, right...telling you about how much white people love hummus.  Or maybe just about how much I love hummus.  Having it for the first time is a revelation.  It's nutty, earthy, a little tangy, and very creamy.  I would never have imagined that chickpeas would taste so good (or eggplant, in hummus's cousin baba ghanoush). 

The best part about hummus may be how unbelievably easy it is to make.  I will say that it's easiest if you have a food processor.  I bought my food processor for the sole purpose of making hummus (I do use it for other things occasionally).  The most difficult part is tracking down tahini, which is paste made from ground sesame seeds.  Most large supermarkets are starting to carry it, and it's often found in either the Kosher section or near the peanut butter.  Once you find it, stick it in the refrigerator and it will be there until the end of the world or you run out, whichever comes first.  I have a giant jar that I bought over two years ago.  I'm still using it.  If you're really lazy, hummus can be purchased ready-to-eat in the produce or deli section of most supermarkets.  Oddly, my nearest supermarket has it with the cream cheese and non-dairy creamer.  Go figure.  We've also found hummus nearly ready-to-eat in a can at the Super G Mart.  Although it appears that you would just open the can and eat it (like Joe and LA did), the fine print on the side actually says that you need to add garlic and lemon juice.  It's still easy.

LA has been making all manner of hummus lately, using beans other than the typical chickpeas, most notably black bean hummus.  Google "black bean hummus" and you'll find scores of recipes.  Hummus really is a great snack.  High in fiber, no cholesterol.  I suppose it would be even better for me if I ate it with carrot sticks, but I prefer the more traditional pita bread.  Even if it is whole-wheat pita.  With it being 100 degrees and humid every day, I'm looking for things to eat that don't require cooking.  Hummus is the way to go.  If you haven't tried it before, now is definitely the time to do so.

I have been making the following recipe for ages, and I have no idea where it comes from.  LA has been substituting lime juice for the lemon juice and prefers it.  I haven't tried it yet, but I wanted to throw it out there as an option.*


1 14-oz can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans or ceci beans)
3 tbsp tahini
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch of salt
cayenne pepper, to taste
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid.  Put the beans in a food processor with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  Process until very smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Add the cayenne pepper and process until blended.

With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil.  If it's too thick, add some of the reserved bean liquid to thin.

*When the weather starts to cool, I'll be posting a recipe for one of my favorite soups of all-time.  It includes chickpeas and tahini.  You can justify buying tahini for two recipes!

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