Culinary school completes me.  The past three weeks in class we learned about beef, chicken, and fish.  Beef was a disaster for me, but chicken was surprisingly fun because we got to cut them up.  One of those weeks, the senior culinary students cooked Mediterranean cuisine such as bakliva, baba ghanoush, and of course hummus.  According to the book, “Secrets of Healthy Middle Eastern Cuisine, by Sanaa Abourezk, there is a Mediterranean food pyramid that offers beans, legumes, and nuts as a daily food to eat, while the US Department of Agriculture just lumps them in with meat.  You can see it to the left.

So the fact that I’m studying about all these “fatty” foods like eggs, dairy, and meat (well we did learn about vegetables and fruits one week) is all the more fascinating because the higher level classes learn about different cultures’ cuisine and that seems more healthy (though there was meat in some of their dishes).  And just flipping through this Middle Eastern informative cookbook shows me that maybe the vegetarian cuisine that’s becoming more and more popular in America could work well for Middle Easterners.  Just a thought…

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So what is the difference between these three condiments?  Well, I did a survey of about 70 people asking them what their favorite dip was and got varied ethnic answers such as Mexican (guacamole, refried beans, salsa, and layer dips with cheese and sour cream were popular), Lipton’s “French” onion dip, Switzerland’s fondue, and naturally the Middle Eastern hummus (with edamame, black bean, baba ghanoush, and red pepper hummus coming up).  So I wondered, if Mexican American food (just look at Taco Bell) is totally different than traditional Mexican food (think beans, corn, and chiles), is Middle Eastern food headed in that direction?

Because someone said that they don’t like Middle Eastern hummus, but LOVE the Americanized processed kind.  Also, I hear that all these American Middle Eastern restaurants are sooo very popular here. I wonder, why aren’t authentic Mexican restaurants as respected as these hummus connoisseurs? Will we have hummus chains soon?

Actually, I found out, we do. I just visited Maoz vegetarian, where they of course have hummus, but also falafal (need to make this) and salads, babaganoush, sweet potato fries, and other veggie options. It was founded in Amsterdam in 1991.

Also, to differentiate between the dip, spread, and sauce, I researched dips and found that they became popular after World War II.  Spreads go on bread obviously which explains why pesto did not get mentioned (although I think pesto falls under all three categories).  I think guacamole falls under all the dip, spread, and sauce categories too.  But ketchup did get mentioned, which might be a sauce as well as a dip. And don’t get me started on sauces.  I’m finding all about sauces in culinary school and those might be even more popular than dips, though we take them for granted maybe.

P.S. spinach artichoke, ranch, cream cheese, and cheese variation dips were popular too.

Middle Easteners like to throw hummus parties! Wish they invited me!

My childhood friend got to experience Israeli hummus in all its glory! (I read that Palestine blames Israel for taking their secret hummus recipe).  One of many discords for these two at war countries.

I feel guilty.   I’ve been enjoying and worshipping hummus in all its Americana, but haven’t found the time (or energy) to appreciate its origins.  So I did a little research on Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel (all the while mistaking Palestine for Pakistan) and found out that though these countries are sometime repressed, they’re also probably waaaay healthier.  That’s not surprising.  What’s surprising to me is that they’re embracing Western food more and more while we are embracing (and commercializing) hummus more and more.  And we have political issues with so many of these Middle Eastern countries that gave us this healthier appetizer that could save us many trips to the hospital.  Am I being naive, or could we solve some peace issues with this?