Tag Archives: chic peas

Cahiers de Hoummous: I am a moveable feast

I learned recently that there are more organisms — each one a separate little fellow — in the last two inches of my colon than all the human beings who have ever existed.

They work together, these fellows, for good. Shaping up digestion, toning up the immune system, and, apparently, limiting weight gain.

When things go wrong, you will regret it, but when they are treated right, the little fellows go about their business without complaint, promoting harmony, efficacy, and a sense of well-being.

Sauerkraut and yogurt are particularly popular with them, but they like most kinds of healthy organic foods. Vegetables mostly. They like diversity.

Not surprisingly, chickpeas are popular. So is hummus.

Knowing that they are down there – all 70 trillion* of them – going about their business and mine – bumping, jostling, collaborating, getting along – pleases me.

I am a moveable feast, a peaceable kingdom.

*  Figures are approximate and may vary by tens of trillions in either direction.

Cahiers de Hoummous: the onset of winter

pumpkin_spice_grandeThey speak to me at Christmas time of pumpkin hummus.

It is the get of the multi-culture. Some at this season reprise even the beet fallacy.

Look it up. There is no plural of hummus.

Hummus is of chickpeas.

Rightly, we contest dried versus canned chickpeas. And then we conclude that either can do. And avidly, we pour into our food processors other pulses, other beans, and other vegetables to mash them up. But those are not hummus. They are dips and pastes and sauces. That must find their own names.

Anything else is the theft of a word that is the property of the chickpea. Chickpeas, garbanzo beans, ceci nuts, sometimes also known as Egyptian peas, Bengal grams, and Kabuli chana: they own hummus.

You may flavor your hummus as you will. After all, you are not choosing a plastic cup on a supermarket shelf. This is MidLaw. You are rolling your own. Radical self-determination is the essence of MidLaw Mind.

So, roasted red peppers are fine. A soupcon of vinegar from time to time perhaps. Frankly, pumpkin spice sounds a bit effete, but OK. For flavor. That’s up to you.

But do not take a simple and sturdy word that has stood for millennia. It does not belong to you. “Hummus” comes from the Arabic word meaning “chickpeas.” It does not mean pumpkins.


CHRISTMAS NOTE: The single question that MidLaw receives most often is, “What is your recipe for hummus?” Longtime MidLaw readers know that hummus culture is a journey, not a destination. Lifelong learning is at the core of MidLaw Mind. Revelation is continuing. Still, in recognition of the season and feeling the onset of winter, MidLaw will bring back key hummus-recipe-and-tips links for an upcoming holiday special. You must return to MidLaw for the holidays.

Cahiers de Hoummous: Two hummus tips to go



MidLaw normally seeks to confine the Cahiers de Hoummous  to hummus topics only and to dole them out at a measured pace. Just now though, we are sitting on not one but two slightly collateral tips that are questing to be free. The post-Thanksgiving interval seems a fitting moment to give them voice.

First: sumac. The argument is made that ground sumac should have an equal place on the table with salt and pepper. Agreed. Sumac is a characteristic spice of the Middle East. It is
commonly described as tart, sour or astringent — mild, but in the nature of lemon or vinegar.

Just try it. Get you some and see what you think. Sumac is a likely seasoning for hummus and many other foods: chicken, fish, rice, potatoes, fried foods, in soda to drink (seriously). Could be healthy. Who knows?


Mssabbaha with sumac

Second: boil an egg and serve it with your hummus. This can be for breakfast or with any other egg-appropriate meal, mezze or snack. Cook the egg for exactly 6 minutes and 50 seconds (per Momofuku). Fill a bowl with cold water and ice. When the eggs are done, transfer them immediately to the ice bath. After that, you know what to do.

For this, you will want your hummus creamy and your egg soft in the middle. (Remember: eggs are back. You can eat them now.)

You’ll be rocking and rolling soon.

Cahiers de Hoummous — notice of temporary supply imbalance affecting hummus & tomatoes markets

NOTICE: Current conditions in marketplace may require prompt action

MidLaw has observed a temporary supply imbalance in the market for fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes in farmers markets across relevant regions. Arbitrage opportunities may obtain.

Accordingly, MidLaw is led to reprise the following item which was originally posted at MidLaw & Divers Items on July 2017, 2013. Readers should gauge their responses based upon their own assessments of market conditions in their particular regions.


BLTSeasonal recipe — hummus and tomatoes

Prepare hummus.

Then, obtain fresh, local, vine-ripened tomatoes. Tomatoes grown in Edgecombe County, North Carolina tend to be best for this purpose. But Guilford County tomatoes are very good.

Wash tomatoes. Slice them according to your usual practice. This will yield a number of tomato-shaped slices or coins. Further slice them into halves or quarters, depending on size. Salt and pepper to taste. You may wish to anoint the tomatoes lightly with oil, vinegar or both. This is optional. (If you elect this option, you might want to add the oil and vinegar first, then salt and pepper.)

Serve halved or quartered tomato slices either in the dish with your hummus or on a separate plate.               

Take a moment to appreciate natives of the Andes for first cultivating tomatoes; peoples of the eastern and southern Mediterranean for chic peas and sesame paste; and eastern and northern Mediterranean peoples for the olive oil. Good people.

Note: This seasonal suggestion has been found to work well as an accompaniment to eggs, and also with mayonnaise, bread, bacon, and lettuce.

Cahiers de Hoummous: hummus wars re-kindled in provocative WUNC article

Is hummus a casus belli, or the path to peace?hummus large

This is old territory for MidLaw.

As MidLaw has patiently outlined, there is great potential for contention between Arabs and Jews about who owns hummus and whose is best. There is no shortage of those who would take up the cudgels. But there has also been a movement towards peace and reconciliation.

At this delicate moment, WUNC, the public radio station, has stepped in with a provocative article demarking differences and provoking antagonists.

MidLaw is a longtime witness and sometime casualty of North Carolina’s divisive and destructive BBQ wars (also regularly roiled by WUNC coverage), And MidLaw has constantly counseled hummus peoples that war is not the answer. For those who are drawn to bean dips, MidLaw’s message is: roll your own with MidLaw Mind. Do not be seduced by external measures of quality or value — and certainly, do not be drawn into backward-looking controversies over who started it all. The debates that matter are: How much lemon juice? When is the olive oil added? What’s this about not peeling the garlic? And, of course, whether it’s OK to use canned chickpeas, and whether and how long to microwave canned peas? And MidLaw can respect each person’s answer.

If however, you cannot resist wading into the controversy, recall MidLaw’s early observation that, although there are surely those who disagree, many signs suggest that hummus may have originated in Greensboro about fifteen years ago. And, remember also that when MidLaw made a recent hummus trip to the Levant, the best hummus in the region was found to be precisely on the boundary, on the Green Line, between the West Bank and Israel.

War is not the answer.

[A MidLaw Dip in the direction of Bill Ross and Mack Sperling who were quick off the mark calling attention to the WUNC piece.]

Cahiers de Hoummous: the sin of pride and the way of the masters

zahavThis is a confession. A confession of the sin of pride.

MidLaw was becoming prideful about hummus. As more “best hummus recipes” came forward, MidLaw began to resist. Why read another one? Surely by now MidLaw knows what’s worth knowing about hummus. MidLaw is an expert.

So, there it is in all its ugliness: PRIDE. The original and most deadly sin. The most insidious.

Pride obstructs new learning and impedes change.

When Zahav’s hummus genius, and the new cookbook (Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking) were urged upon him, MidLaw reacted badly.

Zahav is the celebrated Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia and now also the cookbook, created by Chef Michael Solomonov. Zahav’s hummus recipe both confirms MidLaw’s longtime methods and brings new insights. Zahav deserves the celebration that is raining down on it.

So, as a penance and to purge the contamination of pride, MidLaw has gathered key hummus-craft insights, both from Chef Solomonov and also from others.

Hummus techniques of the masters

  • Soak dried chickpeas in water for 8 to 12 hours with baking soda (say, a teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of chickpeas). Never put salt in there. Salt toughens the skins, and you are trying to soften and ultimately remove the skins, not toughen them.
  • Cook (bring to boil, then simmer) soaked chickpeas in new water with a new baking soda treatment. Cook them for a long time (at least an hour, but even more). Keep them immersed in water. It may not be possible to overcook them. No one knows for sure. What you want to get is really soft chickpeas, falling apart, with the skins separating out.
  • To the extent that you can, remove the skins (remove the skins, that is, if your vision is the creamiest hummus, but bring MidLaw Mind). Maybe the best way to remove the skins is to sift the cooked (then cooled) chickpeas through your fingers.
  • Err on the side of too much tahini.
  • Err on the side of too much olive oil.
  • Err on the side of either too much or too little lemon juice. You must find your own way here.
  • Get enough salt. Add more if you need it.
  • Conventional recipes counsel blending olive oil directly into the chickpeas. But Solomonov, Maureen Abood and many another in Israel and Palestine advocate withholding the olive oil until the end, then drizzling it (very liberally) on top of the processed chickpeas and tahini just before serving. Some do both.
  • When you add water, add cold water (ice-cold water, Solomonov says, with the water to be added into a running food processor a teaspoon at the time; Maureen Abood agrees).
  • Solomonov may be unique for advising that garlic, lemon juice and salt should be combined in a food processor separately. He advises using more garlic than others (4 cloves) but adding the cloves while still unpeeled. Purée coarsely, he says, then allow that mixture to sit for 10 minutes while the garlic “mellows.” Finally, strain the mixture through a sieve into a separate bowl, seeking to remove the solids. Tahini is combined with that in a food processor, and after that, ice water. Finally, the chickpeas are added in.
  • And then, run the processor a long time. 4 minutes? You decide.

Tenets of MidLaw Diet

Even more important though than master techniques, are the core tenets of the MidLaw Diet:

Roll your own.

Never hesitate to use canned chickpeas as the circumstances require. Remember the microwave hack.

Never submit to the dominion of an external standard of taste or texture. Bring MidLaw Mind.


Between pride and submission there is a middle way: the path of radical humility, the way of the masters.

Cahiers de Hoummous: MidLaw Mind and the gateway to good hummus



The gateway to good hummus is MidLaw Mind:

  • Stop. Breathe.
  • Make your own hummus.
  • Let it breathe.
  • Consume radically. Bring absolutely no preconceptions.

Submit to no external standard of taste, flavor or texture. Do not measure yours by hummus from any joint, restaurant or region you may know. And, give no way to any garbanzo-derived dip from any container off any shelf.

The gate is straight. Pass through with humility. Your hummus will rock. If not, adjust proportions as you are led and season as desired. Modify methods as needed.

Be assured. But be humble. Bring MidLaw Mind.

Cahiers de Hoummous: Hummus, the path to peace — and msabbha, a fresh revelation



Brooks Pierce lawyer Eric David is expert at resolving disputes (albeit, mostly by litigation, arbitration or mediation) and he is a serious student of hummus and hummus culture. So, he was quick to see the importance of this development and call attention to it.

Newspapers around the world are reporting the opening of a new hummus place in Netanya, a small town in Israel. The place is called “The Hummus Bar,” and it advertises (on FaceBook) half-price hummus for Jewish and Arab customers who sit down to eat together.

The Bar’s owner told the Times of Israel, “If there’s anything that can bring together these peoples, it’s hummus.” (But see Church of the Chickpea.)

MidLaw knew that. The guy is a dreamer, but he is not the only one.

MidLaw’s theory is that if you are eating, then you can’t be talking. Which is a good first step. If you are not talking, then you might be listening. And, if you are listening, we are almost there. Listening is the new talking. People listening to each other is the path to peace.

This need not be just a Jewish/Arab thing. Picture, if you will, so-called American conservatives sitting down together with so-called American liberals (MidLaw is a so-called non-partisan) to share half-price hummus and pita — say, at the MidLaw Hummus Bar — and together finding a middle way.

The MidLaw Way.

At The Hummus Bar, it’s not just hummus. They’ll give half off to Jewish/Arab parties on any chickpea dish. The msabbha is recommended. Msabbaha looks like it’s worth hearing about.

After you listen, remember: the MidLaw Way is to roll your own. This is hummus after all. It’s not mayonnaise. And it takes no time at all.



The Hummus Bar

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

Cahiers de Hoummos: the hummus world is reeling

hummus roasted red pepperThe world of hummus is in tumult.

A Chinese company has bought an Israeli hummus maker. They are eyeing the American market.

Chinese hummus?

Easy there. The MidLaw Way is to roll your own. You’re not going to be buying Chinese hummus. And not Israeli or Palestinian, or even American hummus. You’re going to be making your own. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s going to be good.

Out of this China revelation, still another “real hummus” recipe surfaced. They say this one is “the best”.

Well, two points here. First, the author of this recipe, like so many others, provides the assurance that if you make your own, it’s going to be good (and better than store-bought), even if you don’t get it exactly right. And second — guess what? — this new best real hummus recipe looks pretty much the same as all the rest of the best real ones.

We are at bedrock.

So, MidLaw fully embraces commerce with China but adverts to Article I, Section 35 of the Constitution of North Carolina and to the Virginia Declaration of Rights. MidLaw says, “A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty.”

Roll your own. Hummus. That is the Way.