Mr. Chickpea and his friends

To celebrate the renewal of Israel’s diplomatic relations with the land of the fez, we present an original hummus work by a very talented Turkish artist and designer. Mr. Chickpea & friends is an art project by Sadi Tekin, a product designer and animator, who specializes in designing figures.

Mr Chickpea & FriendsTekin was born in Istanbul and works in New York. The project includes, up to now, 26 pictures and 19 works. The figures starring in them are based on hummus grains (Tekin insists on mentioning their Turkish name, beyaz leblebi).

Some of the pieces are amusing, and some are gloomy.

Some of the hummus grains have only faces, drawn with a thin pen. Others have a body. They are all very human.
If you like Tekin’s original and witty work, do not miss his website. It is full of surprises.

Will Obama be pleased with Bibi's Hummus?

On his way to meet with Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu, president Obama may find consolation in thinking about the great hummus he’s going to eat. Sadly enough, it looks like he may be disappointed.

During his official visit to Israel, president Obama will be served hummus and Falafel, says local reporter Erik Bender from Maariv (Hebrew).

hummus from acreI believe that most Israelis who read this story were eager to know, above all, whose Hummus Obama is going to eat?

Who will be making the Hummus and Falafel served to the leader of the free world?

The somewhat disappointing answer was Meggi & Tully, a renowed catering service named after the two chefs behind it.

Meggi & Tully were late PM Yitzhak Rabin’s favorite cooks, and in the past 15 years they fed many other VIPs from all over the world. The Hummus & Falafel plate they’re preparing for Obama will only be the entrée of a 3-course gourmet lunch, which must be superb.

But everybody who knows anything about hummus will tell you this: the best hummus is found in small, crappy looking hummus places (preferably owned by a Palestinian, some will add). Not in gourmet kitchens.

Israeli reporter Nir Yahav from walla.co.il, addressed this very issue in a video story aired earlier this week. He formed an alternative “checklist” – a better, more meaningful route for Obama’s tour, that includes Abu Hassan’s hummus place in Jaffa.

One may argue that Obama probably won’t know the difference, but this might not be true. After all, Hummus in standard dish at the White House (thanks to Obama’s chef Cris Comerford, who came to the U.S. from the Philippines in 1985).

We really like Obama, so we do hope that someone in his delegation has the right intel and will go fetch him a nice plate from Abu Hassan’s when he’s here.

Make Hummus Not War (trailer)

This might be the most important documentary ever made about hummus, and it seems like real fan. Make Hummus Not War is here.

Make Hummus Not War“, a 77 minute documentary by Trevor Grahm, premiered last week in the Melbourne Film Festival (MIFF).

This is, I believe, the longest, most important and potentially the best film ever made about hummus (except maybe “The Hummus Enforcement Agency“).

Grahm, an Australian hummus fan who’s also pretty much in love with the Middle-East, was triggered to make this film by the “hummus war” between Israel and Lebanon (which makes it, again, one of the nicest war we had in the region).

hummus-not-war movie

Who owns hummus? This may not be the most important question.

He went on a quest from Israel to Lebanon to Jordan and the Occupied Territories and back, during which he interviewed dozens of people, including myself, about the origins, history, politics and culture of hummus. Read more

OMG! There’s Hummus Ice-Cream!

A hummus flavored ice-cream doesn’t necessarily sound like a good idea, but we had to check it out.

It seems like it’s going to be really hot this summer in Israel, and I’m not even talking about the weather.

Although, I do think frustration from the unbearable hit and humidity has at list some contribution the the severity of social rage, that is once again occupying the streets.

But on my way to witness the extreme police brutality on Tel-Aviv the last Friday, I managed to save a short moment of escapist pleasure in the local branch of Legenda, a chain of Italian ice-cream places.

hummus ice-cream

They have over 30 different flavors of ice-cream and sorbet, some of which look really great.

Being a serious ice-cream addict who have just got back from 10 sunny days in Berlin, where “EIS” is everywhere and costs a third, I was trying to eat more hummus and less ice-cream for a while.

In Berlin, the weather was fine and we had bicycles, so the woman and I were cycling all day like crazy, burning enough calories to escape the consequences of our gluttony.

In Tel-Aviv, June is already too hot for moving on a bike – unless of course you’re a professional biker, or one of them skinny girls doing the Tel-Aviv bike tour thing, which nobody told them was supposed to be so sweaty.

I’m neither, and the public transportation here is a disgrace, so I walked.

What was it that so urgently sent me with a camera to Rothschild? Well, there was a demonstration there I wanted to attend and I also had to taste the new Hummus Ice-Cream that Lagenda has.

The idea of a hummus flavored ice-cream was not very promising. There ought to be a reason why there’s chocolate ice-cream and strawberry ice-cream but no pizza ice-cream, for example.

On the other hand, using chickpeas to make a dessert is not merely a new idea. It goes back to the Romans who used to fry chickpeas and roll them in honey.

And as I found out, Lagend’a Hummus ice-cream does not actually taste like hummus. It is supposed to have some chickpeas and olive oil in it as well, but it actually tastes the most  like lemony Halva (halva is made from tahini and honey or suger).

To be frank – this was an OK ice-cream, not much more than that. I would probably go back to this place, which seems like a really good ice-cream place, but the Hummus Ice-Cream might not be my first choice.

Lagenda Ice-Cream
45 Rothstchield, Tel-Aviv

The Hummus Enforcement Agency

One morning, we woke up to a horrible new reality: hummus was outlawed, and a new kind of viscous police force walked the streets. They called them “The Hummus Enforcement Agency”.

As you may have realized by now, we got some serious problems here in Israel. Many of which result from stupid and corrupt politicians.

One of the side effects of our disfunctioning  politics is a series of new laws that put the very existence of our democracy in danger.

Add this to the poor social situation, resulting from an extreme right-wing economical policy, and you might understand why over 80% of the population supported our 99%-style protest last summer.

That’s also the atmosphere in which “The Hummus Enforcement Agency” (official website) emerged. This 13min movie by activist producer Eran Vered, is the common creation of numerous contributors, distributed for free via YouTube in an open-source model (cc-by-nc-nd). Naturally, I play the hummus guy… ENJOY!

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

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