Friday, March 22, 2013

World Peace, Hummus, and The Long-Handled Spoons

One of my favorite books of childhood was one called The Long-Handled Spoons. I can't find reference to a copy of it anywhere on line--not in a library, or in any of the specific search sites that have worked for me in the past. I remember the story well: It was about a French army regiment that was starving. They had delicious soup to eat, but all they had to eat it with were long-handled spoons. They bent their elbows to try to bring the spoons to their mouths, but it didn't work (oh how I loved those illustrations that had soup spilling all over the place). The solution to this regiment's problem (suggested by a child, I believe) was to feed one another with their long-handled spoons. By doing this they learned that in order to survive with the tools we have, we need to cooperate.

This made me think of Hummus, the favorite food of Daniel Barenboim, and a food that has been popular all over the middle east since at least the 13th century. The ingredients are simple: chickpeas, lemon, sesame, garlic, and spices, and there are as many variations on the theme as there are variations on the theme of bread (flour, water, yeast, salt).

In my utopian Hummus-fed imagination, I think it would be nice to replace Hamas with Hummus, and have with some friendly (or even not-so-friendly) competition over who makes the best Hummus (not who owns the rights to it!). Perhaps some day peace in the middle east could involve people celebrating their similarities and differences, and feeding one another rather than trying to eliminate one another from their small but important corner of the world. Perhaps the solution to peace in the middle east would be easier if Hummus were not a food that you eat with your hands.

I used sprouted chickpeas for the last batch of Hummus I made. You soak the dried chickpeas overnight, drain them, rinse them once or twice a day, and allow them to grow little tails (it takes 2-3 days, but you don't need to do any labor aside from the occasional rinse). The act of sprouting causes the chickpeas to convert their starch into sugar. You can eat them raw, if you like, but if you want to make them into Hummus, you need to boil them for half an hour or so. They mush up very easily, and they make far better Hummus than the cooked chickpeas you buy in a can, and it tastes far better than anything you buy in a grocery store.

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