Cahiers de Hoummos: as International Year of Pulses approaches, MidLaw urges restraint

PULSE LOGO_IYP_en_print-squareWord has come – from New York, Rome and capitals around the world: 2016 is to be the International Year of Pulses. (That is: 2016 is to be the International Year of Pulses!)

The Year has been declared by the United Nations and its Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). And, about time.

MidLaw knows that pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding between one and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod. They are used both for food and for feed. And, MidLaw knows that the term “pulses” is limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain. Oh, and pulses use soil bacteria to draw nitrogen from the air, reducing the need for fertilizers, so they promote environmental sustainability, as well.

First among the nutritious, sustainable pulses stands the chickpea: sturdy foundation of hummus, core ingredient of the ancient bean dip.

Of course, pulses also include lentils, beans and peas. And all of them “have been an essential part of the human diet for centuries,” even though, as the FAO laments, “their nutritional value is not generally recognized and is frequently under-appreciated.”

Friends, that deficit is about to be corrected. In the Year of Pulses, look for the heretofore lowly pulses to be celebrated, as “not merely cheap and delicious,” but “also highly nutritious sources of protein and vital micronutrients that can greatly benefit people’s health and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries.”

So, 2016 looks to be quite a year.

But, in all the excitement, MidLaw feels compelled to sound a note of caution. MidLaw detects amidst the entirely justified enthusiasm for pulses generally, an incipient encouragement to those who would advocate making hummus out of any pulse that comes their way. (Not just pulses, beets as well.)

While MidLaw is second to none in enthusiasm for pulses, there are fundamental principles. So, yes, it is good to celebrate the culinary and other merits of under-appreciated beans and peas. MidLaw agrees. But, we must recur to fundamental principles. And, such a principle is that hummus is made only from the chickpea.

The peoples of the Levant have been making hummus for 5,000 years. And surely by the waters of Babylon in all that time, temptations must have come to render hummus from chickpea alternatives. Yet, the Levant has stood firm. Over the centuries; over the millennia. There is no voice there for beet hummus, none for the black bean. These are doings of Californians.

Now, MidLaw gladly embraces change. Truth is eternal, but our understanding of it must progress. Revelation is continuing. MidLaw knows this. Yet, neither should the settled wisdom of the ages lightly be cast to the side when buffeted by the latest wind of doctrine.

So, MidLaw has readily embraced the whirring blades of the food processor and absorbed the burning heat of the microwave — in the name of change. But MidLaw has also recurred frequently to fundamental principles. And MidLaw stands firm for the timeless principle that hummus be of chickpeas made.

This is the MidLaw Way. As it shall remain — even in the International Year of Pulses, which itself is much to be welcomed and indeed celebrated.

Pulse Symbol_High

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