Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Endless Simmer

Hummus That's Not Ho-Hum
April 7, 2009
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About a year ago, I found out about Sabra hummus. My life has never been the same since.

I don’t know how I missed this product for my first 26.5 years, but somehow it just slipped under my radar. I’d dipped the Tribe, the Athenos stuff, and all the others, but somehow this particular brand just never crossed my path. But one dip in and I was hooked. So rich, so creamy, so fresh-tasting: for me Sabra stands heads, shoulders, knees and toes above the rest of the hummuses (hummusi?) Plus, they have versions that come with chopped red peppers, garlic, or pine nuts on top (although not enough pine nuts, if you ask me). Nevertheless, hummus instantly went from something I would try at a party if there was a good dipping vehicle, to something that is an perpetual presence in my fridge (except for when I eat the whole container in one sitting).

I realize this sounds like an advertisement, but I swear it’s not. My purpose isn’t to convert everyone to Sabra, but rather to rant about why the hell every other hummus can’t taste this good. I’ve been on a bit of a hummus-making kick myself lately, thanks to a few lessons from my Dad and Gansie (but not DAD GANSIE). I just food process chickpeas + tahini + lemon + garlic + olive oil + salt + pepper, and pine nuts if I’ve got them on hand (hey, it’s the recession). The result is always good, but never Sabra good. Seriously, what do these bastards put in their damn hummus to make it so tasty? And why can’t I recreate it at home? Being a good investigative reporter, I went straight to the source:

OK, nothing out of the ordinary here, right? I mean, I can’t imagine it’s the citric acid or potassium sorbate that’s making it so much better than mine. Is it the proportions? I know theirs seems extra-tahini-y, but when I overload mine with tahini, it just tastes too sesame and still doesn’t have their creaminess. Do I have to immersion blend it or something? Do I need new hummus-making eqiupment?

I went on to Sabra’s FAQ page, which modestly enough includes the question “What makes Sabra hummus so delicious?”

Here’s what they have to say for themselves:

Our hummus is made with authentic ingredients, including:

  • Fresh chickpeas (not pasteurized or from a can)
  • Real Mediterranean sesame tahini
  • Authentic, imported Mediterranean herbs and spices

OK, first of all, is it legal to write “herbs and spices” on an ingredient label? To a cook, you might as well have said something has “fruits and vegetables” or “meat” in it. What spices!? Or is this recipe the secret McDonald’s special sauce of the Middle East?

I’m thinking it must be the fresh chickpeas I’m missing then. Do I need to start growing these? Or is it that “real Mediterranean sesame tahini” I need to get my hands on? And does this mean my grocer has been selling me some fake-ass non-Mediterranean tahini all these years?? Well now I’m pissed.

Seriously, if someone could do some subversive research, break into the Sabra factory, or just send me your grandma’s secret recipe, it might help me not go insane.

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