A Theory of Hummus | Food & Cooking | TORN
A Theory of Hummus
    • Arduan [2109024]
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    Thread created on 10:35:19 - 09/04/18 (6 years ago)
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    Last replied 05:10:22 - 12/03/19 (5 years ago)
    The first time I really got acquainted with hummus was when I just arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland. On Bristo Street, in what used to be an old Church, there was an arts center with a vegetarian slash vegan cafe on the side. The main dish that they served in the cafe was a vegan burrito, which always came with some fresh hummus on the side that was just scrumptious and to die for. They would run an open kitchen so that you would actually see all the dishes being made right there behind the counter. When the guy started on the hummus he would chuck a number of ingredients into a food processor and the goo that came out was always just spot on and yummy. When I asked how he made it he wouldsay: Bit of this, bit of that. You taste it and then adjust it. Maybe throw in a bit of X and Y as well." It sounded all very magical to me, and kind of easy.

    Anyway, when I tried it at home, it turned out not to be easy at all. I always messed up quantities: too much tahini, too much water, not enough water. Now, this is probably the moment where I should reiterate that the cafe I just mentioned was an arts center annex vegan cafe and therefore hippy as f**k. These guys where all free spirits, not bound by anything as strict or conventional as a recipe. The guy who made the hummus was brilliant at it but I'm sure it came at a cost of many experiments and probably quite a few failed ones, if going by my own experiences.

    Now, in this post I want to tell you of the day that I mastered hummus once and forever. And then perhaps make a theory out of that experience, if I manage to do so.

    So, on that day I was gonna try to make another hummus - again without a recipe and with the a-bit-of-this-and-a-bit-of-that method. I would typically throw everything in a food processor and take it from there, but on that day my food processor broke. This was a shitty development of what already had started out as a shitty day. Thehummus was meant to improve my shitty mood, not to make it worse. So at this point I was properly getting pissed off with myself: How was I gonna make hummus without a food processor, for **** sake? Moreover, I was hungry and I needed to eat that hummus badly!

    A low mood is not good for anything, but anger you can work with. I wasn't gonna give up. Not today. So I started thinking about what needed to be done. Enter Google, first line of defence against hopeless situations. The main question I still had was: what is hummus?? I mean, I knew what it tasted like - as a gift from the gods (no doubt due to the hight protein and fat content) - and I kind of knew what went in it. But I still didn't know what kind of animal hummus was.

    So I googled hummuss long and distinguished ancestry going back to the Mediterranean and I saw several pictures of home-made hummus dishes. People have been making this dish as a staple for thousands of years, and guess what, not a single person used a food processor - that's clue number one right there. Turned out also that hummus was basically mushed beans mixed with oil. Thats it, you dont need anything else (theres the next clue). Some salt, and maybe some water if you want to make it a bit smoother. You dont need a food processor because you can mush the cooked beans with a fork. Its very easy, you just need to put a bit of work in it, which nowadays we seem to hate doing. But because we put everything in food processors we lose touch with simple methods like that, and we loose touch with the ingredients. Let me say that again: we lose touch with the ingredients. When you mush something with a fork, and add oil to it as you go, you see the texture develop in front of your eyes. For instance, you start noticing that the beans are all contained within a hull that comes off when you mash them - did you know this? Only when you keep mushing do the hull and the actual bean mix together and start becoming like a paste. Since you see this process develop in front of your eyes it is way easier to get the quantities right. In a food processor it is way harder to adjust. You have to wait till you can taste the outcome, and you dont see the process. By hand, everything is suddenly under your control. Moreover, you start the recipe from its most basic ingredients: cooked beans and oil for the texture, salt for taste. Its dead easy and already incredibly yummy. Everything that makes hummus yummy - the protein from the peas and the fat from the oil - is already in there. From then on Paradise awaits as we can now add anything we would like. Want to perk up the hummus? Add some lemon juice. Lemons are another ingredient that grows wildly in the Mediterranean, and that is why they cooked with it: availability. Then a classic: tahini, or sesame paste. Sesame paste, you notice, is mashed sesame seeds mixed with oil. Suddenly that sounds super familiar: didnt we mix mashed beans with oil to make our hummus? Similar method, similar ingredients. Moreover, if we are going to mix tahini in our hummus we dont need to add as much oil becausethe tahini contains oil. Since we are doing everything by hand we are learning all of this as we go. Chances that our hummus is gonna taste bad drop to zero.

    To me, all of these realisations opened my mind to how cooking should really be done: build up everything from the foundations as close to how our ancestors would have done it. In fact, at some point that day I even chucked my fork away and started mashing the beans with my hand. Why? Because it was ridiculously efficient to use my hands. It went waaaaay faster. For instance, you can use your fist like a mortar if you need brawn and your fingers if you need more finesse. I realised I could do this probably with almost anything and felt even more in touch with the generations of people that came before us and who invented all of this in the first place. Hummus is probably ten thousands of years old, maybe older. When you make and eat hummus, you stand at the apogee of those traditions.
    Last edited by Arduan on 21:53:52 - 28/04/18
    • Kapten_Klitoris [1873683]
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    Posted on 11:46:24 - 13/04/18 (6 years ago)
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    I think you are high, let me know if you want a beetroothummus recipe

    • Arduan [2109024]
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    Posted on 13:52:58 - 13/04/18 (6 years ago)
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    Why?
    • DrZed [237786]
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    Posted on 02:11:59 - 14/04/18 (6 years ago)
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    What a great story, And I do agree with you.  Not on Hummus being good,(I do not like it) but on taking the time to do things the old ways not relying upon newfangled machines always. Being patient with your food and seeing and understanding the textures and how things work together. Also there are other things if you work a lot with food and pay attention that you can understand about it. Like certain things achieving a certain smell when they are done. 



    Also making things especially if they take a time gives you an appreciation for things. Such as baking bread, or other sorts of yeast dough. Or to make jam and to can it oneself.



    As for the comment on are you on some sort of drugs it seems that some people to have any deep or enlightening or unconventional response or realization about something that one must be on drugs for some reason.

    • Arduan [2109024]
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    Posted on 13:22:26 - 14/04/18 (6 years ago)
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    Thanks for your kind words. And I totally agree with taking time to make things yourself. Moreover, almost anything we buy ready-made contains utter shit, from sugar to colourings to preservatives. Anything you make from scratch will be healthier by definition.
    • McDallas [14757]
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    Posted on 13:52:37 - 16/04/18 (6 years ago)
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    I love your food posts. Adding you as a friend.

    Love feeling connected to your food, knowing what goes in it and why.
    • GerardCafferty [2122859]
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    Posted on 19:56:38 - 04/11/18 (5 years ago)
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    Just stumbled across your wonderful post about discovering the food of the gods in my city. Brilliant.
    • hollydoakes [2253693]
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    Posted on 05:10:22 - 12/03/19 (5 years ago)
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    Not that I'm food processor-biased or anything, but why do everything manually when there's the convenience of technology just sitting on the kitchen table? It's a shame that your food processor broke down, but I implore you to give it another shot. Invest in a high quality processor, like the ones I found on healthykitchen101.com. They really narrowed down the best choices, with reviews and comparisons as such :3
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