Yesterday, May 13, was International Hummus Day – a 4 year old initiative that started in Israel but spread around.
Unsurprisingly, Twitter and Instagram exploded with tweets and pictures, containing the hashtag #hummusday and the interactive map, which lists notable restaurants and grocery stores which serve and sell hummus, was as popular as never before on a given day.
Hummus started its culinary story in The Middle East, with the first recipe documented in the thirteenth century in Cairo, Egypt.
The dip, traditionally made of chickpeas, tahini sesame paste and oil, and flavoured with lemon juice and garlic, later spread to Israel where gained significant popularity to stay until nowadays as a regular staple in Jewish Kosher meals.
Aside from its delicious taste, there are many health benefits to hummus consumption – it is rich in plant protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas which was directly borrowed in the English language yet with spelling inconsistencies and numerous variations – houmous, hummous, hommos, humos, hommus and hoummos.
The original hummus spelling is the standard spelling in American English, while houmous is common in British English.
Nowadays, according to statistics, Britain consumes 12 tons of hummus annually, worth over £60m. The numbers are impressive considering the short story of the dip on the British market, as it was mass introduces only in the late 80s.
Though its path to mainstream acceptance started some decades earlier, with the first author to introduce the chickpeas dip to the English readers, the cookery writer Elizabeth David, who in her 1955 book Mediterranean Food, described the cooking instructions: “Hummus… Cook the chick peas..pound them, [etc.].”
In the next three decades, hummus in Britain was only to be found in Greek, Lebanese and Turkish restaurants and communities. With the next written reference coming from The Manchester Guardian review of a Greek restaurant in 1967, which advises readers to try the chickpeas paste: “Order the paste of ground chick peas, oil, and lemon which is called hummus”
With more Brits going on holidays in Greece and Turkey and getting the chance to taste the dip locally, the interest and demand naturally rose and led to hummus appearing in British supermarkets and to a boom in its consumption in the 90s.
Hummus can be served in many variations, and not only as a dip or spread but also as an ingredient of a main dish, and with its health benefits of lowering the blood holesterol and digestion improvement, is a food which deserves its International Day of celebration.