21 Minutes of immense Pleasure

If there ever was a special Emmy award for hummus related TV, this episode of Good Eats would have definitely won. Until that happens, the award is all yours. Watch this video.

In most countries (including Israel) people are not familiar with this TV series, but in the States, Good Eats is a very popular cooking show. It is broadcast on Food Network since 1998, and every child knows the mad scientist character played by Elton Brown.

Unlike other cooking shows, which concentrate on explaining how to prepare food, Good Eats also explains why. The show presents the science and technique behind the cooking, the history of the different foods, the benefits and differences between ingredients and cooking methods, and everything else you would expect a crazy scientist to know.

Every episode has a theme, which can be a dish, a cooking method, a holiday or an event. Episode 14 in Season 14 was dedicated to hummus – both the legume and the paste.

In this episode, Brown analyses, among others, some very critical questions, such as the amount of time needed to soak the chickpeas, what does the Sodium bicarbonate do to the hummus, or what amino acids in the Tahini make the combination with the legume into a nutritional treasure. There are also some non Middle Eastern recipes.

In short, make time to watch this. You’re up to a very delightful experience.

Legumes in Passover, and more

Or: why is it a Mitzvah (religious commandment) to eat Masabcha in Passover. Also: what did our ancestors knew about cannabis that we still don’t know?

“Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Perachyah says: make yourself a Rav (teacher), acquire for yourself a friend and judge every man favorably”
Pirkei Avot, chapter 1, Mishna 6

First of all: no, it’s not really a Mitzvah to eat Masabcha in Passover. That’s part of my own interpretation of Judaism. Plus you can eat it without pita bread – an awkward thing to do with hummus. That’s because I, like most Jews, don’t eat bread (or pita bread) in Passover. Only there are some people who also don’t eat legumes in Passover – which is really too much if you ask me. Read more

Red Skhug: a Recipe and a Story

Skhug, if you will, is the Middle-Eastern version of Tabasco – only a little thicker and much more tasty. It is everywhere you look, especially if there’s hummus on the table.

Skhug (*) is one of several traditional hot pastes, that are common in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines – including the Moroccan Sahka, the Tunisian Arrisa, the Syrian/Iraqi Muhammara and others, all of which made mainly of chili peppers, garlic, and spices.

Skhug, specifically, is the most common in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Technically, it’s Yemen and is traditionally served with Yemen foods (such as Malawach and Jachnun), but you find it practically anywhere and with all sorts of foods. It’s almost always around when there’s hummus – and the combination is sheer genious.

There’s the green schug and red schug, both of which can be anything from slightly-hot to burning-hot. It’s nothing like Tabasco or Wasabi, though. Schug is not only hot and spicy, but also have the wonderful flavor of fresh peppers and herbs. The sensation is addictive. Read more

Lebanese Hummus in Tel-Aviv

During the recent “Hummus War” most Israelis were less worried about who wins and mainly became curious about how the Lebanese version of the dish tastes. And so, Lebanese hummus places in Tel-Aviv seem to do very well these days.

Some 120 years ago, my great grandfather, Zeev, found love in Lebanon. He married my great grandmother,  Mathilda, and took her back to his hometown, Sefad. That’s only one eighth of my blood, but that’s a very important eighth.

So when people ask me what my family origins are, I tell them “from Sefad” but that I have some Lebanese origins as well.

Topographically speaking, the mounts of Galilee (in the north of Israel) and a large part of Lebanon, are one geographical entity. There’s a natural resemblance in the foods and food culture of the two places, which were also both under the strong influence of Syria and the great Ottoman empire for hundreds of centuries.

So, I’m not surprised that every time I taste Lebanese hummus – or one the is said to be that – it tastes different. I think that like Israeli/Palestinian hummus, there’s no one single recipe but numerous genres and dialects, that tell a glorious story that is old – but sure is kicking.

Lebanese hummus in Tel-Aviv

Most Israelis I know did not take the hummus war with Lebanon too seriously. If anything, the discussion over this alleged rivalry has made the hummus enthusiasts is Israel more curious about the Lebanese version of the dish. Read more

Squeeze Z Hummus: Message in a squeeze bottle

Some people I know find this idea no less than appalling, but Squeeze Z Hummus – the hummus in a squeeze bottle – seems like a promising product for the American market.

To be honest – we thought it’s a hoax at first. True, Americans have a known tendency to do strange things with hummus, but Hummus in a Squeeze bottle – that’s way too strange.

Also, the initial name of the product, Zohan Hummus, looked too suspicious. There’s no way, we thought, that this is a real product that got permission to use the sacred name.

Apparently, Zohan and his friends are indeed not the kind of people you want to mess with – and the product’s name quickly changed (although you can still see it, printed on them shirts in the promotion video at SqueezeZ Food‘s website).

The idea didn’t: Squeeze Z Hummus comes in a ketchup-like squeeze bottle, that is supposed to make it easier to use and make double dipping impossible. It costs some $6 for a 18OZ bottle and comes in 3 flavors: classic, spicy and with dill. Read more

New Year's Hummus

A Greeting for Jewish New-Year, with a few words of explanation [Read the explanation, than watch the video].

Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New-Year, which according to ancient tradition is the day when all creation started. It is also the day in which our good and bad deeds are weighed and calculated, up in the sky, and everybody gets their “sentence” for next year. Of course, that’s a “popular” explanation of more complex ideas in Jewish Philosophy, that is useful for people who have children.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is that a new year is an opportunity for new beginnings, and a time to set thing strait with both god and other people. So, in the days before (and after) Rosh Hashana, Happy New Year greetings usually come with words of apology and appeasement.

It is customary to celebrate Rosh Hashana night with a festive meal that include some symbolic dishes. The symbolism is not always easy to explain to non Hebrew speakers, because in most cases it’s pun based. For example, it is customary to eat something with carrots because the Hebrew word for carrot (“Gezer”) sounds a little bit like the word for sentence (“Gzar din”). Easier to explain is the custom to dip apples in honey, as a blessing for better, sweeter year.

Got to admit, though, that I like (the video aboves’ creator) Asaf Billet‘s interpretation better:

iHummus: Hummus in your iPhone

Yeah, that’s kind of silly – having a wipeable hummus metaphor in your iPhone. But I guess it’s somewhat like having a blog about hummus.

Despite my basic affection for advanced technology, I’m a very conservative user of cellular phones. As a matter of fact, I only recently upgraded my cellphone to a model that actually works.

So I don’t have an iPhone and I can’t give you a real review of this iHummus app, which screenshots you can see here. And to be honest – I do think it’s kind of silly.

(Which can be perceived as somewhat funny, coming from someone who owns a blog about hummus…)

Nevertheless, I’m sure there are a lot of hummus loving  iPhone owners out there to whom this app would seem like truly innovative, both useful and exciting.

The features listed by the developer:

* Tasty plate of hummus is made just for you
* Wipe your Hummus using a pita
* Dirt the table with hummus
* Burp

Ought to be fun. I guess. If you do have an iPhone and feel like sharing your thoughts about it, feel free to do so.

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