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Michael vs. the Worst Hummus Ever

Eww.Perhaps the cruelest affliction of Exile, more than persecution, more than wandering, more than Europeans, is the impossibility of finding decent hummus. On the surface, it is not a terribly complex dish – a couple cans of chickpeas, some tehina, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, throw it in the food processor and, boom, wipeable chickpea delight. But hummus in Exile, particularly in that Golden Medinah the United States, tends to fall victim to a number of grievous errors on the part of legions of well-meaning but clueless hippies, natural foods companies and fusion restaurants. They are as follows:

1) The term “hummus dip,” which always conjures to mind something a prim 30-year-old upwardly mobile career woman in a really smart pantsuit would order at a business lunch to try to look sophisticated after a childhood of peanut butter on Wonder Bread. At least, it does that for me.
2) What I will call “fixins,” or for people who haven’t spent any time in the Deep South, weird crap they put into the hummus. This includes, but is not limited to, red peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, olives, dill, and that awful Frankenstein monster of a semisolid legume product, Tribe of Two Sheiks 40 Spices. I get the chills thinking about it.
3) Advocating inappropriate use for the hummus, such as these handy suggestions from the website of big-time offender and deli case mainstay Tribe of Two Sheiks: “Many people use hummus…as a topping on broiled fish or chicken, on baked potatoes instead of sour cream.” I appreciate these people’s efforts, but they are unfortunately wrong. Any self-respecting Jew or Arab knows that the only fixins ever offered with hummus are fuul, hardboiled egg, sliced onion and meat. And nobody ever orders the meat hummus. Next.
4) Generally tasting like spreadable death.

So needless to say, Americans in search of decent hummus usually have to resort to heading to their favorite Middle Eastern hole in the wall, the one with questionable sanitation and the large badly-painted mural of shapely many-scarved dancing girls, turbaned men on camels and the Dome of the Rock. Because as ck likes to tell me, the best hummus comes from the hands of Arabs.

Well. I hold in my hand the eternal undying proof that ck is full of it.

It’s called Wild Garden Hummus Dip. I found it in the natural foods aisle of the grocery store. And it is so profoundly awful it makes Tribe of Two Sheiks’ Boston headquarters appear, mirage-like, as a veritable Abu Ghosh.

Okay Michael, you say, so you found some crappy hummus at the grocery store. Big deal, you’ve been telling us for several paragraphs how awful American hummus is.

Ah! Right you are! But here, dear friends, is the rub. Conspicuously tucked away on the Wild Garden jar is the phrase “Product of Jordan.” And, if you’ll note, that particular nation is notable for being entirely Arab. Which would lead one to believe, if you put stock in ck’s unshakeable belief that the best hummus is made by Arabs, that Wild Garden hummus would be at least tasty, if not mindblowing. However, sadly, this is not the case. Wild Garden hummus is greasy, sort of chunky, inappropriately shiny and sour. Furthermore, it breaks several cardinal rules of hummus by coming in a variety of flavors, including hot pepper and sundried tomato, and by referring to itself as “hummus dip.”

Double ewww.

But the mystery deepens.

Wild Garden Hummus Dip is also certified kosher by OK, a nationwide and theoretically reliable kashrut organization. However, as I understand it, kosher certification generally requires the regular inspection by a knowledgable Jew of the premises where the food product in question is made. Jordan is of course completely Judenrein. So the burning question is, how does a country which is 92% Sunni, 6% Christian and 2% Shi’a and Druze have a guy coming in to check how the Wild Garden hummus is coming along? Did Chabad of Amman spring up without me knowing about it? How do we know the workers in the Wild Garden hummus plant aren’t drinking frosty milkshakes and flinging around cow parts all over the machinery after hours? And how did they get a whole factory’s worth of Arab guys who can’t make hummus?

The only feasible answer? A Zionist conspiracy.

OK’s kashrut division is paid an undisclosed sum to certify the frosty-milkshake-and-cow-part-fortified-Jordanian-hummus as kosher. Because it is kosher, and because it is Arab hummus which is widely reputed to be far superior to anything made by Americans, both Jews and non-Jews snap it up. Then they taste it, and when they stop crying, they have become unrightfully convinced by this bizarre fluke that Arab hummus is, in fact, no good. So, reeling with ennui and general confusion, they search desperately for a new brand of hummus to satisfy their jones. And fall directly into the waiting, Zionist arms of Sabra Salads.

Jews are so evil.

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27 Comments

  1. ck

    9/21/2005 at 5:10 am

    Any company that says the following things with respect to the sale and marketing of hummus:

    a) Hummus (pronounced Hum-es)…
    (Hum-es??? WTF? Tribe of Two sheiks)
    b)The slogan make every day a party

    clearly has no idea what it’s doing.

    Factory-made, pre-packaged hummus, regardless of it’s provenance (Arab, Jew or other) is going to only be, at best, a weak approximation of the real thing. I mean seriously… 18 month shelf life? Yikes!

    And yes, while in general good hummus is made by Arabs, Jew-run places like Taami in Jerusalem (endorsed by Harry – He Knows Thingsâ„¢ – and music too!) and The Hummus Place (NOT KOSHER!!) in New York give Abu Gosh and Abu Shoukri a run for the money.

    I guess when you live in Wisconsin, you don’t have many choices. Luckily Michael will be in Israel soon where he will be able to consume good hummus, milkies and uh… the flesh of Palestinian babies, to his heart’s content!

  2. JOBBER

    9/21/2005 at 8:39 am

    But no one actually buys this atrocity. Just because you make something, and advertise the crap out of it, people would continue to buy it?

  3. Tiff

    9/21/2005 at 9:45 am

    I love that you guys care about hummus as much as I do. Sabra salads are great but don’t forget about Shamir. Their hummus is delicous. They have the classic style for hardcore hummus fanatics like Michael and crazy hummus garnished (not blended in!!!) with zaatar, schug, chillis for experimental types such as myself…. Also, Michael it took you long enough to figure out that ck is usually full of crap. ck, my brother, if you’re redaing this, sorry I ignored your call last night but I was like area code 213?, uhhh I don’t think so…
    Next time (I’m not holding my breath in anticipation) I’ll be sure to answer, ” Tiffy’s Steakhouse”.

  4. Dina

    9/21/2005 at 10:33 am

    “I appreciate these people’s efforts, but they are unfortunately wrong. Any self-respecting Jew or Arab knows that the only fixins ever offered with hummus are fuul, hardboiled egg, sliced onion and meat. And nobody ever orders the meat hummus.”

    But Michael!!! How could you say that? Chummus is delicious if you eat it with fresh Tuna steak. And before I became a vegetarian (who still eats fish), I’d eat it with steaks and hamburgers all the time! Everyone knows that chummus is great with everything–including watermelon. Yum.

  5. JOBBER

    9/21/2005 at 10:34 am

    really only homemade is good. You take chick peas and let them soak overnight. then you cook them w. a blend of spices and onions. then you grind them in a food processor w/ virgin olive oil.

    I told my son they have such places in Israel that only serve Chumus, he couldn’t beleive it. This is major treat on Friday night since he was a 2 yo. I hope to be able to take him to Israel ASAP for that CHummus. I used to go in downtown Jerusalem, not Machene Yehuda, couldn’t stand that place. Downtown they had a couple of places, had the chummus w/ a side platter of onion, pickels, tomatoe and hot pepper, w/ hot ful.

  6. esther

    9/21/2005 at 11:17 am

    Michael, you make me laugh. And I cannot wait for the dispatches from Beit CK v’Michael. (What happens when a c-killer meets a kosher eucharist? I’m pretty sure hilarity and misadventures ensue. Make sure you get a good deal when you sell the TV rights…)

    I am so getting kicked off Jewlicious for this, but I actually like the flavor of that 40 Spices hummus. The texture is all wrong, given. But I’m okay saying that every once in a while, a girl needs a little spice, or 40 of them.

    But “make every day a party”? That’s just wrong.

  7. Chutzpah

    9/21/2005 at 12:34 pm

    It’s a dessert topping and a floor wax!

  8. mzn

    9/21/2005 at 12:55 pm

    Great post, very funny. But I think Jews can make good hummus. I’m quite pleased with my own hummus and last I checked, I’m a Jew. I prefer to start with dried chickpeas, because the cooking liquid is a perfect thinning-out ingredient if you hummus is thick. (The liquid in canned chick peas is vile and must be discarded). Also, I prefer hummus served on a plate, which makes for easier schmearing on pita, and spread out with a spoon to create a wide center indentation in which one drizzles olive oil and sprinkles cayenne pepper. I never eat hummus served at a party in a deep bowl. You plunge a tortilla chip into this stuff (I know, a tortilla chip!) and its tip snaps right off before you’re done dipping. Yikes.

  9. Michael's Dad

    9/21/2005 at 1:21 pm

    You need sleep.

  10. keren

    9/21/2005 at 1:33 pm

    Don’t want to open another can of chickpeas here, but what about whole food’s baked falafel balls?!!!!!!!!!!!!

    personally, I think the cook should be locked up!

  11. JOBBER

    9/21/2005 at 4:35 pm

    Nah baked is Jewlicious. The mix falafel put out by osem is obscene though. I tried baking that, sheesh what a waster of my time…

    We get the frozen kind by Amnon, it’s not bad.l THen again if you have an easy felafal recipie to share, please do. I often want a felafel and can’t get one in this dismal Jersey town I work in.

  12. Stuart

    9/22/2005 at 1:20 am

    Sabra Salad is pretty good (but not as good as the best hummus I’ve ever had in the U.S., which is at Persopolis in NYC), and it’s head and shoulders above the abomination that’s Two Sheiks. Don’t even start me about Cedar’s. They mean well, but you might as well have Hummus with Pinapple, the way they taste.

    However, Sabra Salads haven’t been the same since they started using canola oil or a canola/olive blend instead of pure olive oil. I personally would go with Picnic Time. They’ve got things like Hummus Abu Ghosh (I think that’s the one with pine nuts) and Hummus Moroccan style.

    After having just spent two weeks in Israel with my wife, though, what I REALLY want to know is whether there’s somewhere in the U.S. that sells Diet Malty?

    Advertising for Malty’s ubiquitous around Jerusalem.

  13. DeisCane

    9/22/2005 at 1:50 pm

    Stuart,

    Are you gonna post about Diet Malty on every Jewish/Kosher website??? 🙂 Try Goya Malta Light. I think it’s kosher, but I’m not sure.

    BTW, one more vote for Sabra. It’s the best mass market in US. There are some Israeli brands I can get at Fairway that are slightly better, though. If I could read Hebrew, I’d tell you their names. 😉

  14. Calvin

    9/22/2005 at 1:53 pm

    Each country or region has its own strengths and seeknesses when it comes to food.
    I eat excellent hummus at Pinati in Jerusalem, and when i come o the states – i don’t come for the hummus, my friends…
    (P.S. every time we come we “smuggle” in good Charif fr our friends. maybe we should start bringing humus as well 🙂 )

  15. terpy

    9/23/2005 at 8:53 am

    that wild garden hummus is abominable. I tasted it and nearly choked. A week later i decided to give it another try, and threw the whole thing in the trash.

  16. grandmuffti

    9/23/2005 at 12:56 pm

    Muffti hates pointing out logical fallacies, but he feels compelled to exercise his only talent.
    CK said: arabs make the best hummus.
    translated to logic with plausible linguistic assumptions, that means:
    If x is the best hummus, x is made by arabs.
    Michael gives us the following:
    x is terrible hummus, and x is made by arabs.
    Which gives us:
    not: (x is not terrible humus or x is not made by arabs)
    Which is equivalent to:
    not (if x is terrible hums, then is is not made by arabs)

    That last conditional, is NOT the negation of ck’s conditional. Thus, you have no NEW proof that ck is full of shit. You did the classic mistake of affirming the consequent.

  17. michael

    9/23/2005 at 3:11 pm

    I forgot to mention in the post that while Wild Garden is awful hummus, a full jar of it makes a very fine missile to lob at windy psychology grad students.

  18. Chutzpah

    9/23/2005 at 4:27 pm

    Not one person remembers the floor wax/dessert topping skit from SNL? Now I really feel old!

  19. michael

    9/23/2005 at 4:29 pm

    “CLEAN SHIMMER…IS A FLOOR WAX!”
    “IT’S A DESSERT TOPPING YOU COW!”

    The guy who wasn’t born when it came on remembers it, if that makes you feel better.

    Ahhh…Gilda Radner…

  20. esther

    9/23/2005 at 5:28 pm

    Chutzpah, I remember it too. Gilda was one of our most Jewlicious comedians ever. Sigh. What a loss.

  21. grandmuffti

    9/23/2005 at 6:15 pm

    Psychology grad students? Oy. If your right wing pop hadn’t just given Muffti the gaaz-o-leen award, Muffti would give you such a threshing! 🙂

  22. michael

    9/23/2005 at 6:20 pm

    Oh wait, I meant philosophy grad students. Sorry. All those “p” disciplines get mixed up.

    As far as threshing, well, I do have some wheat growing here that could use it.

  23. ketket

    9/23/2005 at 11:20 pm

    Hahah! This is fun!

  24. Mallika

    3/7/2006 at 7:31 pm

    Wild Garden Sundried Hummus is actually DELICIOUS! I understand you’re taking exception to the name and such, what ‘true’ hummus should be like, but I don’t really care about all that. This is yummy, better than lots of ‘fresh’ hummus from the refridgerated aisle; so if they were able to give it a long shelf life – well, I say, GOOD FOR THEM!

  25. Robin

    12/10/2006 at 7:46 pm

    I’m glad I didn’t read Michael’s comments before trying Wild Garden Hummus, or I might not have tried it. I love it, but it’s not widely available in my area. I love it so much that I came upon this site by Googling “wild garden hummus” in a quest for more. But I’m a gentile who doesn’t generally like dip.

  26. Mose

    2/8/2008 at 10:42 pm

    I love it. Especially the single serve one. Plus, I know people who eat this hummus with meat! It happens!
    I think you have ‘something’ against where it’s made and the people that are making it. Otherwise it’s just exaggeration. It’s all natural. Check out all the crap you’re eating in regular basis. At least this make it our fast food life healthier.

  27. rachel

    12/7/2017 at 8:34 pm

    michael, you may know something about good hummus, but you should learn a bit more about world politics before making derogatory comments about kashrus organizations. the reason the jordanian hummus you apparently gag on is able to be supervised for kashrus is because jordan does not ban jews,even israeli jews, from visiting that country.they are, however, not permitted to own property in jordon.in this instance, I don’t suppose that matters a lot because there aren’t any kashrus supervisors standing on line to buy property in jordon anyway. nevertheless, he may spend time there supervising a batch of pareveh jordanian hummus.

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