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The Fresser

A few thoughts on hummus - a most political dip

From Facebook to my kitchen, the chickpea spread is a constant cause of controversy

    I was bemused by a recent debate on the Facebook group Restaurant Club. The group, which has large number of Jewish members can often get spark a heated debate.

    This thread was about where to find decent hummus in London. Some shouted for their favourite Israeli-owned establishments. Others plumped for Arab restaurants on the Edgware Road. It quickly descended into an Arab/Israeli debate with some posters angrily berating others for opting for non-Israeli eateries for their hummus recommendation.

    The abusive comments have since been deleted, but a huge list of cafes and restaurants remains for hummus-seekers to take their pick from. 

    There has long been a debate throughout the Middle East as to who invented the beige, chickpea-based paste. A simliar discussion centres on shakshuka. How can such simple foods be so controversial?  

    The debate at Chez Fresser was over the hummus in our fridge. In my opinion, every supermarket own-brand I've tried has a strange, almost vinegary tang. Adding garlic distorts the balance of flavours. Sometimes it's disguised by the whichever spice or added flavourings they have tried to pep it up with, but no amount of Moroccan/red pepper/caramelised onion or other added ingredient can make it right for me.

    Only three brands get the Fresser seal of approval —

    1. Yarden (I buy the light version - annoyingly called 'lite' - they'd burn more calories if they could be bothered to write all the letters out correctly);
    2. Sabra (bought over the festive season as it was on offer and surprisingly tasty) and
    3. Me Too - made right here in Watford by the lovely Ramona Hazan. 

    Each has sufficient tahini to my taste. The Yarden is as smooth as a baby's breakfast and almost chalkily full of sesame —  perfect for dunking carrot sticks while I'm in my New Year/New Me phase. 

    Yesterday, Mr Fresser came home proudly bearing a new hummus. Marks and Spencer's new own brand, called 'Velvet Hummus'. Working from home as we both do, we called an instant taste test, spreading both dips on corn cakes — a favourite platform for hummus at the moment.  M&S may have almost achieved the silky consistency of the Israeli product they say they were inspired by, but the flavour was wrong, wrong wrong. Garlic ruining the lovely tahini smoothness.  Proof again that our supermarkets may be aspiring to Israel's finest, but they keep falling short of the mark. 

    For the record, Mr F disagreed - but that's fine. I'll eat my hummus and he can eat his. (If only all conflicts were so easily resolved.)

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