Hummus be joking

Returning home after a week away in wild wet windy western Wales, I was so hungry I could have eaten a horse chestnut (if there were any left now that the species is on the verge of extinction). There wasn’t much in the house and I would no more phone for a fast food delivery like most idiots people do than I would perform a un-anaesthetised self-lobotomy with a brace drill. There was nothing for it but to fall back on an old standby that I can always rustle up fairly quickly from larder staples: hummus. The slow way to make hummus would entail soaking dried chick peas overnight in cold water before boiling them for at least an hour; the quick way just involves opening a can of them pre-cooked. Normally I do the former, because the dried pea is far more tastier and nutritious than the canned – but needs must, and I always keep a can or two at the back of the cupboard. Likewise I’ve always got a jar of tahini, the other fundamental component of hummus, in the fridge. The sesame seed paste should really be made at home (by dry-roasting and grinding the raw seeds then combining with a little oil) but I couldn’t be arsed so I resorted to the inferior ready-made stuff in this basic recipe:


400g tin of chick peas, drained
2/3 garlic cloves, crushed
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. tahini
approximately 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

1) Put the chick peas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini in a bowl, reserving a handful of chick peas for topping
2) Blitz with a stick blender until combined (if no blender, mash with a sturdy potato masher then beat with a fork)
3) Slowly add oil, blending as you go, until achieving the right consistency (thick without being like cement, viscous without being runny)
4) Season, top with a dusting of paprika, the reserved chick peas and a glug of oil

The eastern Mediterranean classic is usually eaten crammed into the pocket of a pitta bread, but ordinary bread will do if there are no pittas to hand or if they’ve turned mouldy, as the vacuum-packed supermarket versions do all too readily. Unfortunately pitta breads are extremely difficult to make at home, requiring hours of tricky toil involving warm yeast, glutinous dough, messy kneading and a scorching oven – and with no guarantee that the end product will even emerge edible. Thus the only alternative is the shop-bought pitta, preferably from independent Middle Eastern groceries rather than the low-grade chain supermarkets. I filled one with hummus and a few cherry tomatoes and wolfed it down. Simple, utilitarian peasant food. Not a displacement activity for the absence of love dressed up in semi-mystical foodie clap-trap; just nourishment. Quite nice.

Increasingly I am disengaging. There is a limit to what an intelligent, aware person can take. I am not a masochist and I can hardly bear the pain of witnessing what is happening across the whole world. I want out, and my escape plans are well advanced. Hence my reconnaissance mission in the Welsh hills last week. Not long to go…not long to go…