For me, hummus is more than a dish. It’s a passion, an ideology and a way of life. Also, I believe hummus to be an Archimedic point, from which things may turn and change for many people.
People had asked me, on many occasions, why did I decide to write about hummus. As if there aren’t other burning issues – especially in the middle-east, where I happen to live – if you know what I mean.
True, there are things that might seem more important. But for me, as I already stated once or twice in the past, hummus is more than a dish. It’s a passion, an ideology and a way of life. Also, I believe hummus to be an Archimedic point, from which things may change for many people.
Yeah, I know, this sounds pretentious. But let me argue my points and than decide.
The Glory of a Legume
Chickpeas and sesame are certainly underestimated in our era, being a such nutritional pearls (you’d find some relevant articles in the Health and Nutrition category). Hummus, before anything else, combines the virtues of the too.
Today it’s already very popular among vegetarians, and people who strive to improve their diet and health, or even supplement an anti-anxiety/depression treatment (because hummus is better than Prozac).
In other words: hummus is quickly becoming a natural “functional food“, and part of a new lifestyle. Making hummus at home is something many people do today, and many others understand today the huge difference between the packaged substitute and the real thing.
There are further political and cultural implications to these trends. For example, when realizing how inferior an industrialized food may be compared to the original dish – not only nutritionally but also culinarily – you may come to a new understanding of “the new vs. the old” thing.
The Politics of Hummus
In previous posts I already discussed the darker side of the hummus politics. Like the stupid quarrel about who “owns” it (to read more about it, refer to Who Stole my Hummus and Hummus, Israeli or Arab).
Indeed, the habit of eating Hummus may have a strong political saying attached to it. In a certain context, to even say “I’m a hummus fan” or “I love hummus”, is to make a political stand (Democrat in American terms, like I explained in the post Voting for Hummus).
But what’s more important, IMHO, is how the actual act (of eating hummus) is pure of all this – excuse my French – bullshit. Lets put it this way: when eating hummus people usually don’t explode at one another, and do not shoot each other. So maybe instead of the never-ending diplomacy and negotiations, if people only ate more hummus, things would have looked a lot better.
The Dialectics of Hummus
In the last few years I’ve eaten in many strange or outlying places, sometimes with people whom nothing but a good plate of the divine dish could bring together.
People with suits, side by side with people wearing working clothes or uniform, fashionable wear or traditional dressing. And those people never talk politics; if at all, they say things like: “pass me the pitas, pleas”.
In this hummus sub-culture, there is a hummus code of honor, and certainly a sense of hummus-brotherhood.
From my experience, a good hummus place does not have to use customer-preservation practices. People who “found their hummus”, won’t abandon it. Good hummus places in Israel do very little marketing, if any. They do not need branding and don’t make pricey commercials in order to get attention. Also, when becoming extra-popular, they do not forget they old clientele and almost never charge more.
This “industry” is driven by different forces and different values, selling a different products. And it’s highly contagious, and it’s heading west. A peaceful rise.