4.10.2008

Heavenly Hummus

My recent trip to Tel-Aviv, Israel was one big food fest. Really, it was. But hello - have you met me?! I'm all about food. And really, what better way to get a taste (pun intended) of the culture and passions of a people than through their cuisine? Israeli cuisine is spectacular - a beautiful amalgamation of Moroccan, Arab, Greek, and Eastern European tastes, it's the best of many worlds.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, hummus was plentiful, present in at least one meal a day. But I have to say - that no matter how many hummuses I've tasted over the years in the U.S. (even in so-called Middle Eastern restaurants), I've never been able to get the bitter taste of disappointment out of my mouth. So here I thought the creamy dream was long lost unless I traveled back to Saudi (which is a long shot, because I really have no desire to go back there)...

But eureka! Israeli hummus- what a delightful discovery. No matter which restaurant I went to, the hummus was absolutely divine. But getting people to tell me their favorite hummus joint (and yes, they have restaurants devoted solely to this chickpea delight) was like asking a New Yorker which pizza joint is the best - ultimately, it's all personal taste. And much like pizza, you can get hummus 1000 different ways, with 1000 different toppings (though really, the comparisons stop there). For instance, you can get hummus with stewed black beans, whole garbanzo beans, with tahini (sesame puree) or without, served warm or cold, with a hard-boiled egg or without, and just about every variation therein. One of my favorites was hummus served warm, with whole garbanzo beans tucked away within each swirl, a healthy pour of tahini, a scatter of fresh parsley, and a decadent pool of gorgeous olive oil on top.

As you can see in the picture to the right, hummus is usually served with pita, a simple salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley (all dressed lightly with lemon and olive oil), and pickles.

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