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.”
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.