For the Love of Hummus

Delicious, delicious hummus.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hummus is in the eye of the beholder

A. Ha. Lan. (wasahalan, worthy readers).

Well, another Purim come and gone. Here is one of your favorite hummus-bloggers, brightly dressed in solidarity with the 5 billion other revelers parading through the streets of Jerusalem.

Now it's almost time for Pesach! Aka that time of year where we like to pretend our ancestors came from someplace a bit more Sephardi than Eastern Europe. Like anywhere but Eastern Europe. Deciding to eat kitniyot two years ago was the greatest decision both Rachel and Dafna ever made in the history of their lives. And, according to the Baba Nassi, aka the Great Ga'on of South Bend, aka some guy in the shuk, once you eat kitniyot, you can never again suffer through a totally unnecessary ban on corn or rice during Pesach ever again. Pass that Bamba, Elijah.

Anyway, before Dafna starts sanitizing her yogurt and Rachel finishes scrubbing the chametz off her toothbrush, we thought you'd appreciate some pictures. A visual round-up, if you will. See that? See what happened? You really thought you'd escape the round-up this time. You were so close. Some of these are cultural, some are archaeological. All would certainly be excluded from a Google picture search if you have SafeSearch turned on. That's just what we do.

Here are some Arab dancers/drummers/hoop skirt twirlers performing in the Old City a few nights ago, part of a pretty genius nighttime music festival in the different quarters. Some Middle Eastern, some classical, some soul, plenty of oud and a whole lot of co-existence going on.

Here was this gigantic group of Haredim in Mea She'arim yesterday. We couldn't quite figure out what was going on, but were later informed it was the funeral for a famous Rabbi who had a lot of followers. It was intense. Great place to be if you like the crush and bustle of a crowd.

Ah, yes, this is quite a gem. Pictured here is the Hilton Beach Horde, uncovered by archaeologists just today mere inches below the modern strata of the site. Notice the placement of the shells and the pirate symbols found on the sheet they were wrapped in. Lab analysis is ongoing, but we're fairly sure this horde is connected to...

...this incredibly rare, ritualistic cult pattern dating to the 8th millenium BCE. Experts consider the circular pattern symbolic of a Late Helium Age society worshiping Zoglobek, God of Schnitzel.

Finally, here we have the Yarkon River, once a major river in ancient times, now a nice place to take a leisurely afternoon bike ride when city life gets to be a little

That's all for now. Any more archaeology information and we'd have to start charging tuition. Tune in next time!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Celebrating Humus

By Rochelle Mass

In Acre, by the sea, Yusuf makes it coarse with cracked kernels
crispy as pecans.

A man called Kobi serves it to me smooth as velvet in the
last row of the Tiberias souk.

On the highway, near the number 80 Army Camp they fill the center
with tehini, lace it with olive oil.

The Ahmed brothers, in Afula, run a place with a kosher stamp,
a Rabbi sits at a table near the kitchen inspecting what goes in and out.
The brothers pile whole buds in the center, add bits of parsley
big enough so I recognize the shape of the leaf.

Just past the memorial to fallen fighters, at the Golani junction
I ask for hot fava beans to fill the middle, with paprika sprinkled
over the steam till the surface glows.

On Yermiyahu street in Tel Aviv, my serving arrives ashkarah style
with a full radish, green onion stalk, an egg boiled brown.

No matter the recipe or the service, humus is to be wiped. I tear
pita quickly, twist firmly into the taupe mass, reach for
cracked Syrian olives and diced salads that parade the humus
till the table swoons in peppery sharpness
till pickled aromas challenge the minted tea
till my celebration ends.

(Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Volume 5 – 2003, p. 163
National Council of Jewish Women / New York Section)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Leave the gun. Take the hummus.

Whoooooooooooaaaa, doggy.

Dafna is starting to wonder if the lengthy and inexcusable absences from blogging stem from a deeply subconscious desire to turn every post into a roundup.

First of all, it's February. A lot has happened since November in our lives, and maybe in yours too. Maybe you got a new haircut, saw Elvis at the gas station, or donated a kidney to science. Maybe you walked naked into a Wal-Mart and stole a pair of socks. We just don't know what you, our faithful readers, are capable of. The sky's the limit!

For our part, we've seen a few concerts, eaten some hummus and finished the first semester. Dafna moved to a fantastic apartment off Dizengoff Street, very close to important things like the beach, and a branch of Tony Vespa Pizza that's open until three in the morning. Her friendly and physically-fit roommate is from Agoura Hills, aka where some of Rachel's family lives, aka you're welcome for that full circle.

Concerts: First of all, we saw Shtar. Yes, the one and only Shtar, Haredi Judaism's answer They were great. Then we saw the Greilsammers, who were celebrating the release of their new album, which is probably the best thing ever. Michael got a little crazy with the violin at times, but we forgive him. It's hard not to be excited when you're that awesome. Then we saw Tomer Yosef! And now this song is on repeat for the rest of our lives: עברתי רק כדי לראות.

Hummus: We went nuts at Caful, which is at the beginning of Nahalat Binyamin. They have this great, deconstructed Sabich hummus. Rachel was beside herself:

Also, there have been more endeavors in the masabchah category, and Dafna has found that there exists some vast conspiracy in which each and every hummus place pronounces the word masabchah differently, and each and every time it is NOT the way she pronounces it when ordering.

The first semester: Rachel is officially just one semester away from being Israel's top conflict resolver, and Dafna is one children's pop-up book away from finally understanding when exactly the Assyrians invaded Judah. The Second Millenium BCE question was thankfully solved when her class just stopped talking about it.

That's all for now, folks. Our fearless hummus aficionados are currently both in the U.S., enjoying the simple cuisine of their homeland, whether it be a fresh, delightful California fish taco, a slice of New Haven pizza, or this Thanksgiving dinner that Dafna forced her family to stage in violation of the Pocahontas Act of 1932, which states that all Thanksgiving-related foodstuffs, parades, giant balloons and alumni football games must be relegated to the month of November. Please don't tell the IRS. We didn't even have a whole turkey.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hummus is as Hummus Does

This is a picture from Megiddo, where billions of years ago, futuristic aliens shipwrecked on a desert island dug gigantic grain pits to hide from dinosaurs and zombies, subsisting only on twinkies and cockroaches, the only edible survivors of a nuclear holocaust.

Can you tell Dafna is a little behind in her readings? (A clue in the pesky Second Millennium BCE mystery: The word "millennium" probably means there are 1000 years involved. Stay tuned for the next clue.)

Friends, there's a new favorite hummus style in town: masabacha. Surely we're not the first to discover it, and we're happy to share this news with you, but don't even think about touching our bowls of it. Get your own! Basically it's whole chickpeas in a lemony, garlicky thick tehina and basically, it's awesome. We finally went to Bahadonas, a lovely sidewalk hummus joint near Dafna's old Tel Aviv 'hood. Her favorite part about the hummus here? It's tangy. Like tang. It's a kick in a glass. Has a nice little zip to it, and the pita was warm and spongy but not overpowering.

Folks, Rachel is the now the proud holder of a passport stamp from Chicken Kiev! After a last-minute, 24-hour trip to the capital of buttery fried poultry and the Ukraine, we can officially say that Rachel is the coolest journalist of all time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reunited and the Hummus is so good

Okay, let's be clear: even though you may find some circular motions in this post, it is by no means a round-up. Round ups are so last blog year. This is more of a "Where are they now?" expose.

To be honest, this picture pretty much sums up Dafna's return to this great land:

It's been a whirlwind two weeks - Gilad Schalit is home, Qaddafi is really, really dead, Rachel and Dafna have both started a new school year, and we're pretty sure we had Hummus Ben Sira twice in one week. Rachel has moved into a sweet little apartment in Rehavia with a personal kiddie pool, just down the street from Bibi. Hopefully there will be a block party soon. Dafna is all settled in to her digs at Tel Aviv University, and by settled in we of course mean watching magnificent Israeli cable TV 24/7. Two nights ago, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of eating a bag of her favorite Israeli granola and watching the season 3 premiere of Srugim, aka Friends minus all the sex.

But also, Dafna has been doing lots of reading and posturing, chiefly in the field of Biblical Archaeology. She's still trying to figure out exactly when the Second Millenium BCE was. Any suggestions? Rachel has been explosively busy not only as famed night/duty/holiday supplement/copy editor emeritus at the Jerusalem Post, but also starting her second (and final!) year as Hebrew U.'s best Conflict Resolution and Mediation graduate student. We think she's figured out the solution to Middle East Peace: isn't pita bread the real enemy? Have we made that joke before? It still works.

Also, this is probably going to jinx everything, but something really weird and other-wordly has been happening to our two favorite hummus bloggers ever since they first arrived in the Holy Land some two years ago. They have the insane ability to actually control television programming. Every time one of them says "I wish this were on," or "That's just like this movie you haven't seen but hopefully will get to watch on TV soon because it's not worth renting," it actually comes true. Case in point: while recently watching Clueless, Rachel brought to light the fact that the movie is based on Jane Austen's Emma. Two nights later, while visiting her Savta (Grandmother), Dafna noticed a froofy British film was on TV when she came in. Do we even have to tell you? Emma.

What are the odds??

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Welcome home

Today is a historic day for Israel. Gilad Schalit, a kidnapped soldier who has been held in captivity by Hamas terrorists for roughly five years and four months (1,941 days), is coming home to Israel. In exchange for Schalit, 1,027 Palestinian prisoners are being returned to the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The plan is already underway this morning. Schalit has been transferred to Egypt (it's 10:12 am and he was just interviewed by Egyptian state television. He apparently speaks fluent Arabic now.) and his family is waiting to meet him at Israel's Tel Nof Air Force Base in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv, where he will be flown soon. The 1:1,027 swap, as the media has dubbed it, is insane and beautiful at the same time. Israel values human life so much that it is willing to set over 1,000 terrorists free; today, it will set 477 free with the other 550 to follow later. Israel needs every parent whose child willingly or unwillingly enlists in the IDF to know the government will do its best to save him or her. On the other hand, Hamas supporters rallied in the West Bank this morning chanting, "We want another Schalit."

I just pray Schalit reaches Israel and his home, Mitzpe Hila, safely.

Israel is welcoming a less historic, but still exciting Israeli home today... the one, the only: Dafna Nechama Laskin. She is flying at this very moment having dreams of Michael Greilsammer's violin doing the backstroke in a bowl of hummus.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Where there's a will, there's a hummus

Ahalan Wasahalan Hummus Enthusiasts,

Here to talk plans. Big, fantastic plans.

1. Dafna has recently read in several cookbooks and on certain, trustworthy websites, that it's possible softening chickpeas in baking soda has a detrimental effect on the integrity of the resulting hummus. A more back-breaking solution? Peeling the chickpeas after boiling them.
2. Thanks to a secret family tip from Dafna's Tarzana cousin, Etti, we now know that just a small, discreet amount of mayonnaise may give hummus a smoother, yet more cohesive, consistency. Report from the lab to follow.
3. October 13th marks the First Birthday of the sweetest little niece you've ever seen, evidenced here:

Do you think she'd like a hummus cake? For that matter, don't you think she should be eating a completely hummus-based diet? Very digestible for babies and no chewing required.

4. Are you sitting down? Are you starting your engines, battening down the hatches, and girding your loins? In mere weeks, Dafna returns to the Holy Land of Hummus, where she will be studying the Archaeology and Geographical History of Ancient Hummus Production. Yes, readers. It is high time for a long hiatus from American hummus. Headed back to where it all began.