Hummus. To those unfamiliar with the unidentifiable creamy substance, it is viewed as an icon of healthy eating. Too often I have overheard people dismiss hummus, assuming it to be gross because of its healthy connotation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, those that have taken the chance to vanquish the mysticism surrounding it, hummus is a valuable treasure. Hummus can take on many forms, so having one bad experience with it does not necessarily mean you should dismiss the food as a whole. Roasted red pepper, garlic, and now sriracha are among some of its most popular varieties; however, there are really no limits. My husband is a prime example of a lost hummus explorer that eventually found his way.
I have been making my own hummus for years now, partly because I love cooking, and partly because it is considerably cheaper than buying it in the store. Traditionally, hummus is made with both ground chickpeas and tahini, a paste ground from sesame seeds, to make its signature creamy texture. Personally, I usually omit the tahini component because it is not an ingredient I readily have on hand, and I think the hummus turns out tasty either way. Without the tahini, a batch of hummus can cost less than $1.00 to make: just the cost of the beans and the desired seasonings. This is about a quarter less of the price of many common brands. I’ve made so many different flavors of hummus that I couldn’t begin to name them all, but my favorites have been ginger sriracha and carrot habenero. Did I just say carrot habenero? Yes. This is where my husband’s story begins.
I have offered Noah a sample of hummus each time I’ve made it, and without fail, he declined every time. He was a victim of the healthy connotation and was wary of its texture. However, last week he was fueled by the excitement of cooking an anniversary dinner I would love and the image of shiny orange habeneros in the fridge. With a little help at the end, he whipped up a batch of the most flavorful hummus I have ever tasted, and it beautifully complemented his homemade yeastless naan. And the best thing about it… he loved it too! Its spice is not for the faint at heart, but its flavor packs a powerful punch that is worth a slight run of the nose. This is what cooking at home is all about.
Cooking at home allows you to push the boundaries of products found in stores and create foods that are unique to you and your taste buds. I highly doubt anyone in the world has even had an anniversary meal exactly like we had, and that made it all the more special. Like Noah was able to discover a hummus that he could get excited about, you don’t have to conform to eating only the foods that companies advertise. On top of being more happy with the taste of your food, you can experience ownership of your diet. To me, the phenomenon of hummus provides a useful metaphor for what your relationship with food should be like.
- Keep an open mind. Don’t fall into the trap of any negative connotations or be afraid to try something that is out of your comfort zone. Some of my favorite foods now are flavors that I thought I hated earlier on in my life: olives, coconut, and pickles.
- Create your own rules. Don’t let society or your peers determine the foods or combinations of foods that you are allowed to enjoy. If you say it’s good, then it’s good.
- On the flip side, don’t be disheartened if you don’t enjoy everything that other people enjoy. Not everyone is going to like all foods, and that’s okay. I only ask for people to give different things a chance.
Our diet and taste buds are personal, and thus we need to be providing them with the unique attention that they deserve. For Noah, it was hummus. For others, maybe its beans, broccoli, or avocados. Whatever it is, harness the hummus metaphor to find a balance between staying true to yourself and broadening your perspective of food. Believe me, your taste buds with thank you.