For the Love of Hummus

Delicious, delicious hummus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hummus, even unto its innermost parts.

Okay people. Dafna has been having intense, uncontrollable, incapacitating cravings for, surprise ... hummus. Specifically, for the what she now considers to officially be her favorite Israeli hummus, Ben Sira. Yes yes, there's that delicious Nahariyan locale known as Danny's Hummusiya, but something about that Ben Sira charm. The beans in the table, the planning to have enough cash before you go because they don't take credit card, the mushrooms and cauliflower. Rachel gets to go whenever she wants, but Dafna just gets to hear about it and dream. She's also been craving shakshuka, and made this little pan of it recently: Supposedly New York City ( I always imagine myself in those Pace Salsa Commercials with a southern accent when I say that. New York City??) has some decent places, some of which I've even been to. There's The Hummus Place, which matches in texture but is a bit undersalted as I recall. The Chickpea lacks two important flavors - pride and love, both of which may be even more important than lemon and salt. Taim has good falafel and sabich but pretty standard hummus. Supposedly there is a place in the outer reaches of Brooklyn, Mimi's, that actually serves authentic, I feel sick but I can't stop eating this, please someone just take the fork away, hummus.

Well folks, I did it. I went. I sat on the B train for 55 minutes of an ethnic safari - rivaled only by the ride to Hebrew U. through Mea Shearim - until I reached Mimi's. And holy cow, was I disappointed. It started out innocently enough, ordering hummus with pitriyot - mushrooms. But two things made me uneasy before I took my first 'wipe.' First, it took 15 minutes for the order to come out. My order being a bowl of already-cooked hummus. Second, I heard a microwave. Let's gloss over the hummus itself, which was overly lemony (who would think such a phrase could appear in this blog?), overly salty (seriously, who is writing this thing??) and under-spiced. But the kicker? My hummus had spots of that sort of darkened, hardening crust that can appear on half-eaten hummus sitting in the fridge for weeks, or as I discovered when we made hummus last June, forms when you leave hummus sitting in the hot sun. You know what that means? It means they microwaved my hummus. Need I go on? Case dismissed, court adjourned, other legal jargon.

But then, this event, the second Hummus Taste Off, happened recently (thanks, Amanda, for the tip.)

So, there's minor hope for hummus in New York City, after all.
(This stuff's made in New York City?? Seriously, just watch this commercial)

Wait! Also, meet Dafna's soon-to-be new roommate. Tim currently works as Fordham University's Alumni Relations and Development secret weapon, without whom the school would likely implode.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Springtime for Israel

Chodesh tov, friends! Time to throw a little Jewish knowledge your way. Today is the first day of the Jewish month of Nisan. This is an important day for several reasons. Firstly, it's Rachel's Hebrew birthday. Secondly, tradition teaches it's the day the mishkan (the tabernacle the Jews carried in the desert for 40 years) was finished. Thirdly, recognizing rosh chodesh ("head of the month") Nisan was the first commandment given by G-d to the Jewish people. Soon followed by the commandment to never covet your neighbor's hummus or falsely testify against hummus. The arrival of Nisan also means Pesach is upon us (14th Nisan), so start peeling those tomatoes, liquidizing your sugar and hiding your quinoa (it's a gray area?!). Speaking of delicious foods, I went to the hummus capital of Israel last week with my parents and the Congregation Beth Am group that was visiting. The restaurant was a major crowd pleaser. The hummus was okay. Kind of a let down, honestly. Lacking in flavor, crucial lemon juice and too oily. None of that stopped me from dipping the fries like a beast. I mean, it's still Abu Ghosh. I had a wonderful visit with my parents. We happily spent several days in the lush, rainy north. Below, our hike in Banias. Everything is in full bloom in the north. Springtime always makes me think of Hitler in the best way. My cousin apparently built this beautiful new metal sculpture called "Turning the World Upside-Down" (by Anish Kapoor) at the Israel Museum. My dad, pictured in front of it. I found a photograph at the Israel Museum of one of Dafna's pastry chef colleagues. August Sander, German 1876-1964. Pastry Cook, 1928. Moshe Dayan on King George St. Sculpture of the national sport in Israel, spitting like you just don't care. Outside Dafna's favorite government building, the ministry of culture and sports. Shout out to UConn for winning the NCAA! I've been hearing about some tasty hummus in the Ein Karem neighborhood of Jerusalem. Looking forward to trying that!