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Monday, May 5, 2014

When chummus comes a-knocking…

image Ya know, it’s the worst cliché about Israeli society, but like many bad clichés, it turns out to be a true one: 

Israelis love them their chummus.

When I saw this truck parked outside our building this morning, I called Akiva to take its picture.  Just too funny to think about chummus being delivered to your door in just about the biggest truck I’ve seen since moving here.

I got so excited when I saw this. I imagined some sort of spigot at the back where you could just get the stuff on tap, but Naomi Rivka said, very seriously, "no, you need olive oil." Hmm... maybe from a separate tap?

image In the crazy Adam Sandler movie, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, he plays a chummus-obsessed former Mossad agent who moves to America and reveals that all he wants to do is style women’s hair.

And he LOVES chummus, at one point even going so far as to use it as a hair styling product.

In that, he’s a typical Israeli, which I suppose was the idea in the first place.

Me, I don’t even like the WORD chummus, because, in English-speaking countries, they call it “humus.”  Little suspecting that there is ALREADY a word “humus” in English, and this is what it looks like:

humus

(photo credit:  Wolfgang Berger, via flickr)

Ew.  Just a little too close for comfort.

So even back in Canada, I made an effort to pronounce it right:  “chhhhhoooo-mooos.”  With a topping of “techeeeeena” - no Anglicized taheeeneee for me.

When we did our little home matzah-baking workshop before Pesach, I bought a variety of condiments for the kids to enjoy on their homemade matzah:  butter, cream cheese… and, as an afterthought, chummus.

Let me tell you, there was no other condiment in the WORLD, as far as the Israeli kids were concerned, that could top the chummus.   They didn’t even glance at the butter (my kids’ choice) or cream cheese; just shmeared their matzahs with great generous dollops of chick-pea lotion. 

Like, I had to bring out more knives so they could devour it with greater rapidity.  Children don’t lie:  they are the true harbingers of Israeli culture.

So this might be a good time to mention that I don’t like chummus? 

Not just the word, the foodstuff.  It’s not exactly true; I’m coming around and will tolerate a streak of it in a falafel or wherever.  Even better if it’s tinged with roasted red pepper or something else to give it an actual non-grimy taste.

You heard me – grimy.  And don’t tell me you can “brighten” the flavour with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, paprika, hair tonic or puppydog toenails.   I have MADE chummus that other people have told me is fantastic, and I still didn’t like it.  So don’t tell me I haven’t met the right chummus yet.

My favourite homemade “chummus” back in Toronto, when I still had a food processor, was made with black beans.  Second best, kidney beans.  Actual chummus made with chummus aka chick peas aka garbanzo beans (ew, garbage-o beans!), came a very distant ninetieth.

Like humus, chummus is not particularly photogenic.  If you ask Wikipedia what it looks like, you’ll find out soon enough…

image

(photo credit:  Donovan Govan via Wikimedia)

(I love the looming shadow on that picture, as if the chummus is evilly plotting to kill you in your sleep.)

Various attempts are often made to disguise it with condiments.  These often end up just making things worse.

image

(photo credit:  Gilabrand via Wikimedia)

It seems that there is even no word for chick peas in this country – it’s all just chummus.  The bagged chick peas in the freezer section of the grocery store:  chummus.  The dried beans lurking on the shelf:  chummus.  I imagine if you could find them in tins, those, too, would be chummus. 

It’s all just chummus waiting to happen.

I know it’s ubiquitous throughout the middle east, but really, there is no more Israeli food than chummus.  It’s cheap, plentiful, supremely nutritious, savoury and goes with almost anything (if by “goes” you mean, “contributes a grimy taste”).

So in honour of Israel’s 66th birthday, let’s raise up a glass… of this quintessential Israeli food!  Or just style our hair with it and say le’chaim.  Oh, yummy yum.  I just can’t wait!

4 comments:

  1. Blasphemy!!! And you can find it in tins. My favorite chummus is at Makom B'Sejera (with sauteed onions & mushrooms) but if you don't like it...as they say, "על טעם וריח אין להתווכח"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or, en francais, "chacun a son gout." With apologies to real French people for having left out the accents.

      Delete
  2. This post has been included in  Sivan Kosher Cooking Carnival. Please read and share, thanks.

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