Here, in America, seeing the word Hummus on a restaurant menu generally makes me shudder. Hummus is a food that has become chic, cool. However, the average American has not the faintest idea what hummus really is.
Here’s a hint. If it looks like an scoop of ice cream and its served with “pita chips,” then it’s NOT hummus. I honestly have no idea how hummus has gotten so popularized if Americans have only had inedible substances whose only resemblance to hummus is that they contain chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
I happened to catch Guy’s Big Bite, on the Food Network, the other day, and he was making something, which he called hummus. Here are a few of the things that went into that goo, which I can only be glad that it was on TV and not on my plate (or anyone else’s, who I care about): jalapeño, chipotle, and roasted red bell peppers. All of these are products which do not go in hummus. I am not against adding hot spices to your hummus – but that happens when you eat it, not during the preparation. That is why hummus, in any place worth its salt, is served with a spicy sauce, known as s’hug.
Furthermore, hummus is definitely not ever served with “toasted pita bread.” Saying “pita bread” is the same as saying “bread bread” (or even “bauguette bread” and more to the point פיתת לחם, خبز خبز, and other such mistakes like “naan bread”). Also, heat the pita, don’t toast it.
Another mistake I saw on TV that day, was the host opening a can of chickpeas and simply pouring them into the food processor. When making hummus, you must, MUST, wash the chickpeas numerous times, to make the “hummus” even edible. Moreover, if you want your hummus to be good, even if you use canned chickpeas, you have to boil them and remove most the skins, from most of the individual beans.
The biggest mistake, however, was the lack of tehina (sometimes called tahini). For hummus to be really good it must include tehina. Apparently there are other authentic versions that replace tehina with ful or with labaneh, but simply mashing chickpeas (with other vegetables, no less) does not result in hummus.
Calling the product made on that show “hummus” is tantamount to libel. The host made a product and called it hummus, despite the minimal resemblance it had to the real thing. And then people wonder why hummus is referred to as a “diarrhea-like substance.”