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…
Thanks for the recipe… West Wales is a haven of sanity (well, mostly)… and you will be made welcome!
Dic, the last sentence of this post is worrying. This world has always been a vale of tears; it’s just better reported now.
Hey, I’ve lost your number. Are you okay? West Wales is way too wet and wild and windy, worse than this place. Don’t abandon our ship you’re a bright light in dark times lovely. Lou.