Tuesday, 22 June 2010

He ain't heavy, he's my Hummus

If Pink Cava Fizz is to be the new Pinot of the past two years, it's food equivalent has to be Hummus.
Hummus. Hummous, Houmous. However you choose to spell it, nothing can unequivocally deny the sheer awesome organeleptic force of this gunk. Pure genius.

The love that I feel for this sticky substance goes beyond a Friday night in with the girls or a haphazard party snack. Nope. To me, Hummus is a religion.

I first flirted with Hummus on holiday with my first Boyfriend. Kavos. 1999. So much to dislike about the place. The scratchy wool blankets. The melting make up. The Ouzo induced 2 day hangovers. Yet, a Greek Phoenix had risen through the flames.
Maybe I tried it to numb the pain of the concrete slab that was Kavos or that it was just that my palate had the sophistication akin to licking 12 plug sockets. Back then you see, to me, eating was more of a hobby. Ask anyone who knows me well enough and you will find that I don't really "do hobbies". However, whilst my friends and siblings were discovering being good at long jump, acting or horse riding, I was busy eating. Almost anything in sight. And do you know what? I was very good at it too.

Back in Kavos, the sun was setting over our parasol covered evening meal and tonight we would dine as grown ups. Instead of ordering my usual Pizza, I decided I wanted to eat what all the other big people were feasting on. I saw people liberally dunking great mounds of cloudy white bread into a small clay pot. The activity appeared to last a lot longer than your average Pizza, so it was a no brainer.

A static mass of rich tea coloured mayonnaise which looked like it has developed some serious goosebumps, it has been given a slick of the finest Olive Oil and scattered with a very suspect grown ups dust. I can now believe to be Paprika. There was a collar of vegetables guarding the clay pot too, almost like the ladies legs like you see on synchronised swimming. Adding colour and vitamins all added to the grown up Greek picnic.

Emerging my pillow bread into the Hummus and taking my first bite, it was a culture shock for my tongue. I would imagine if Hydrochloric acid were made into a peanut flavour, this would be a good benchmark. Ever so tart and incredibly nutty. It could have been the two carafes of white wine, the romance of the pretend parents supper and the blaring Euro Pop which aided the experience, but I liked this Hummus.

Like any good Brit back on TerraFirma you make a point to emulate that slice of holiday bliss. It is what I like to call PHB (that's Post-Holiday Behaviour) to you. It can come in all forms of behaviour. You may find yourself wearing your bikini to the supermarket as opposed to a bra in the vein hope that it will become warm enough to face the shops in just your swimwear like you did in the shops abroad.
You go out into pubs and try to make the bar-staff create an array of cocktails that you had sampled and ask for a "fishbowl" cos that's how you had it in the Irish Bar in Magaluf.
Trying the food that you ate on that holiday is a staple PHB of many a British brother and sister.

Hummus has long now been a favourite in my cucina. In fact, we are now celebrating over a decade in partnership together.

I have enjoyed the various homemade creations, often induced through the grape.

Hummus has a plethora of purposes. It is fundamentally a dip, however I find this a bit of a shortcoming.

It can be spread on thick slabs of ciabatta, warm or cold, delicious when smothered on hot buttered sourdough bread and out of this world when used as a cement between two pringles. Salt and Vinegar being my poison.

I have been known to utilise my Hummus for obscure eating indulgences; to name a few; dipped in cold pizza, apples, fish fingers, ham, strawberries, grapes. I think a scotch egg may have bathed in there at some point. I would go as far as saying if I could, I would brush my teeth with Hummus if I could.

The humble Hummus is essentially a Melee of Chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, salt, garlic and olive oil.
Standing solo, chickpeas are to the gastro world what Jay Brown was to the popworld when leaving Five. Morose, futile and looking scared.
Mashed to an inch of their lives and soaked in a lido of oil, salt, tahini and sweet lemons and you have yourself a Meditteranean party in your alimentary canal.

As with any food now, it has been doctored and played with to an inch of it's life and now takes many guises. Perhaps to meet the niche of drunken ladies on a Friday, you now have lemon & coriander, red pepper, olive and aubergine, pesto and chilli. I feel a McFlurry vibe behind these Chickpeas.

I like to have mine with Jalapeno's, lime and red hot chillies and lashings of cracked black pepper.

Having a degree in Food and Nutrition, my girlfriends often use me as a faux-diet consultant. "Is it healthy" as they pile mounds of the stuff in with kettle crisps. I have to break it to my ladies that, no, it really is not.
The sad athletic truth is that 3 tablespoons later and you would require 45 minutes on a cross trainer and 15 minutes on the treadmill. And that's running girls. Not walking with magazines in front of you.

For me, the formula is simple.

Eat more. Move less.

Will Cheryl Cole ever appreciate that heavy hit of Hummus topped on a pringle sandwich. I think not. Her loss.

A whistlestop tour of El Capital at the weekend led me on a gargantuous gastro pavement pounding session. Soho, pulling out all the stops for the food fashionistas with it's oh so pretty pattisseries boasting slick gateau's and candy coloured macaroons to take home.

After the endless vacuous Sushi bars that fondled every street corner, we stumbled across our Mecca.
It was the Hummus coloured sign that caught my eye originally and the shocking Paprika lettering.

Hummus Bros.

Could it be? Approaching closer to learn more of their religion. It became evident that this here was a restaurant built solely on the basis that you would be ordering and eating Hummus.
Gazing through the window with Chickpea envy, I could see the swarms of diners (mostly ladies) delving heartily into tagines of the good stuff.

Whoever created this menu can only be described as a Chickpea Alchemist.

A very Ikea savvy method of Hummus shopping. You select your Hummus House foundation and then extend with your materials of choice.

Chuck in some Chorizo? It's an option. Want shredded lamb? It can happen if you want it.

It was only when I stopped to see the Hummus Hardcore crew in the window dishing me up some serious deadeye that I decided to retreat back to my empty belly and step away from the cocktail menu.

Our next stop. Tesco Metro. Family sized Hummus. Sliced Chorizo...............Yiamas!!!

Dive in now.

Hummus Bros, 88 Wardour Street, Soho, London. W1F 0TJ


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