The Hummus Factory

eggplant, tahini, parsley

Almost all of the people I spoke with said they rarely make their own hummus, simply because the store-bought stuff was as good – if not better – than what they could make at home. (I guess it helps to think of it like peanut butter, where the homemade is very good, but store-bought will suffice.) People have very strong opinions about hummus, like they do about other things, in Israel. And if you mention a particular brand, or a place that makes it, you’re likely going to be told – with absolute certainty – that there’s another one, or place, that’s definitely better.

hummus

Since hummus is so popular in Israel, as it is in many other countries around the world (as far away as Mexico), there are some large companies that produce it, such as Strauss in Israel, which also produces a number of other salads and dips, like Baba Ganoush and other Middle Eastern-based sauces.

raw chickpeas for hummus

I was invited to visit the factory and then to the hummus “laboratory”, where the researchers and cooks work on various recipes, making sure the seasonings are just right and adjusting the flavors as necessary.

The first step in making hummus is preparing the chickpeas. Here, Bulgarian chickpeas are used because they told me they’re particularly tender and unlike hummus you might have had, the hummus in the Middle East is particularly smooth. A few recipes advise that the smoothest hummus is made from chickpeas with the skins removed, but no one I spoke with in Israel said they did that. So according to them, it’s about the variety. (A pinch of baking soda in the water helps as well, if you’re making them at home.)

Once the chickpeas are cooked, they’re left to marinate in their liquid until cool and the liquid thickens, which takes on additional flavor from being in close contact with the chickpeas.

tahini

Israeli hummus tends to have more tahini in it than other countries, which makes it richer and deeper in color. Other places go heavier on the lemon than they do in Israel, due to local tastes. You can see just how much tahini gets used here; each of these flexible sacs is almost bursting with tahini.

Fifty tons of eggplant also get cooked in some fashion at the same plant, which are destined for Baba Ganoush, a cousin of hummus that’s widely enjoyed in the Middle East as well. It sometimes goes by the name of moutabal.

roasting eggplant in Israel

Even though the Strauss plant is relatively modest (about the size of a large office park) and completely modern, each eggplant gets placed under the grill, one-by-one, by hand.

roasting eggplant in oven

And once roasted and cooled enough to handle, a team of women facing their own sink, remove the charred skin from the still-hot fruits.

charred eggplant

The cooking process for the whole eggplants takes only about four minutes, since the flames are so hot.

eggplant, rawroasted eggplant
peeling roasted eggplantwashing roasted eggplant
washing roasted eggplantroasted eggplant conveyor belt

Other eggplants get cut into wide strips then deep-fried until very dark brown, which gives them a lot of extra flavor.

4 minute eggplant

The extra boost of taste is likely because those strips of eggplant are destined to be mixed with either tomatoes and peppers into a spicy sauce, or simply mashed and seasoned, as a dip.

hummus production line

Then the puree is deposited into tubs and off it goes, sent to markets.

hummus man

Afterward, we headed into the kitchen to meet Yaron, who made a smaller batch of hummus for us, using the exact same method that’s used in the factory.

israeli spicesfresh hummus chickpeas
roasted eggplantfresh hummus making

He also smeared a roasted eggplant with tahini, poured on olive oil, and added some chopped, fresh parsley, which one of the scientists told me what the most challenging part of the process. Because parsley is a fresh herb, it can’t be sterilized for processing as it loses its flavor when cooked. Needless to say, dried parsley is out of the question as well but they didn’t tell me how they solved the riddle.

He pressed the eggplant into some bread and we passed it around. And let me say that if you ever make a trip to the Middle East, be sure to track down tahini because the stuff I had in Israel tastes nothing like the sesame paste sold in jars in America or France.

hummus

strauss research team

eggplant ad

After we left, we pulled up to an agricultural research station, where the focus was on various squash, including a hybrid resembling an acorn squash but with the flavor and texture of cooked chestnuts. Another was a bright orange spaghetti squash, called Orangetti, that had tons more flavor than the less-interesting pale, yellow varieties that one normally comes across. And if my suitcase wasn’t packed with tahini, I would’ve likely stuffed a squash or two in there.

fresh chickpeas

But when we passed a field of what looked like dying plants, in between all the squash, Harry S. Paris (whose name, of course, I am coveting), a doctor of agricultural research who works at the research station, mentioned that they were chickpeas, I hopped out to get a better look. Each husk was dried to a crisp in the searing mid-day sun, and once cracked open, a tiny little chickpea rolled out from inside.

israeli eggplant chickpea

I suppose it would be fun to harvest enough to make a batch of hummus out of them, and taste it to see if there was any difference. But with my skin already feeling like I was an eggplant being broiled, I decided it best not to harvest any, and stick to buying my chickpeas by the sack. Or on occasion, by the container.


A Note About Posts from Israel:

A number of people have commented about my visit to Israel, in a previous post and elsewhere. It’s a country I’ve always wanted to visit and I was happy to be invited to deeply explore the cuisine by meeting local chefs, chocolatiers, and growers. I don’t have any particular agenda when I travel except to eat the food, and meet the people who make it. (And usually an exit row aisle seat, if I can snag one.) Other countries that I’ve traveled to and done the same thing include Australia, Tunisia, Portugal, Ireland, France, the United States, Switzerland, Sharjah, and Mexico, all countries that have governments and/or beliefs that I don’t necessarily ascribe to. (And believe me, there are a number of things I’d like to change in more than one of those places.) Visiting and writing about the cuisine of a country is not an endorsement for or against its policies or its government.

The situation in the Middle East is challenging and one that’s not going to be resolved on a food blog. And most likely not by someone who bakes cookies for a living. Many people have strong opinions on the political situation in the Middle East and as someone of direct Arabic descent, I am doing my best to learn about, and to respect, all the people who make up this interesting part of the world.

My intention of going to Israel was to meet the people who live there, who represent a wide swath of cultures and encompass a variety of political, religious, and social beliefs. I came mostly, however, to learn about the cuisine, which is as diverse as the culture.

I certainly couldn’t go everywhere, and do and eat everything that I wanted to do in one week, and I’m hoping to go back one day and not just hit the places I missed, but to stay in touch with the generous and wonderful people who I met. And I also have on my agenda, plans to visit other countries in the region in the future, as time permits.

If you wish to comment on various dishes, ingredients, cultural and geographic variations, and methods that are used in other countries, and so forth, all of those are welcome here. (Read my comment policy for further information.) Certain dishes go by certain names in various countries, so please respect others in whatever part of the world you wish to discuss.

But it’s not appropriate to make certain assumptions about why I took this trip, or about the people who live in Israel who I met, or about the neighboring countries that are based on conjecture. I do ask that people refrain from leaving comments of that nature and respect not only me, but the various people that visit the site. I travel to other countries for the food, and to meet local cooks and bakers, and am happy to share those stories, places, recipes, and people here. And sharing them is the intention of this blog. -David

177 comments

  • David — thank you so much for posting this. I absolutely love getting to look inside of factories. I think that would be a great new reality show, getting to see the depths at where our food is coming from! And it also makes me hungry too.

    One thing though – that roasted eggplant looks a little sad, but that’s to be expected when you get roasted I guess.

    I was just hoping to hear more about hummus actually — I really need to learn how to make mine more creamy at home.

    Thanks again – GREAT post! So happy to see all your Israel photos and experiences here and on Instagram.

    xoxo
    Cheri

  • it is possible to find this hummus outside israel ?

  • Yum – I want some hummus right now! And not the American grocery store stuff. I do make it, but it’s never as good as that you can get at a restaurant, etc.

  • If we could concentrate on the pleasures of life, one of those being the wonderful diversity of delightful dishes and the beautiful range of flavors throughout, the world would be a such a delicious place.

  • I’ve enjoyed reading about this trip immensely, and your pictures and descriptions of the cuisine make my mouth water! Given the spirit of your note at the end, maybe we should turn to people who bake cookies for a living to resolve tough political situations in the world.

  • I love making hummus and would rather than to buy it at the store. I am still searching for a great recipe and the trick to getting it smooth. Do you have any suggestions or learn any tips while you were traveling?

  • well said – and I loved learning so much more about humous, something I ate the first time in England and never looked back. Such a wonderful beautiful and – OK shop-bought – easy accessible as versatile food.
    Thank you David

    I have another prob tough – I couldn’t post a comment to your July newsletter. May I add it here and you’ll transfer it sometime later to your site? I do NOT adhere to facebook, I have deleted my account very early, I don’t do twitter and on my seldomly used Yahoo UK account I couldn’t post, for unknown reasons…

    So here goes:
    Thank you for this most wonderful monthly newsletter. Love the way you put your news and your mouth watering way of explaining and inviting… Particularly love that you have NOT cleaned up your kitchen before showing pixie; we are ‘cleaning’ up our wonderful house for sale (moving back to Switzerland for a new job) and I find it v. difficult to ‘empty’ kitchen – because I too have always bunches of herbs standing around, as having a huge collection of cookery books in three languages (mostly because of magic photo work) – the espresso machine is on the ready at all times as is the kettle, there are always some pots bubbling … aaaah and then the ‘choco’ pic of MY Lac Léman (and I know which hotel it was taken from!). Thank You – Merci David. You made my Monday
    I shall now eat the second last Swiss truffe made with black chocolate but not bitter just PERFECT
    bisous
    Kiki
    unquote

    And now enjoy the kindness of people and the goodness of the food in every country and place you visit; you’re right, this is not the place for political statements – but for friends of gorgeous food and some very good writing and photographs :)

  • You now know more about hummus than I do. When I cook chickpeas or any type of bean in Israel I use baking soda because the water is hard, filled with ions that bind to the beans and inhibit softening. Too much isn’t good since it destroys the vitamins, according to what I’ve read. Filtered water can also be used for cooking since it isn’t as hard. I appreciate this post.

  • Thank you David! Thank you.

  • I’ve always struggled to make a really good hummus at home. Its one of the failsafe ready made products in shops as well I find – if I’m out and need a quick lunch I rarely get the prepackages sandwiches, but pick up a baguette and some hummus. I’d like to make my own though, it’d be a lot cheaper!

    Baba ghanoush on the other hand is sublime cooked at home – I’ve never tried a storebought one I liked.

    Love the photo of the chickpea plants, I’ve never seen them before!

  • I normally think of hummus and simply chick peas, tahini, lemon, garlic and various spices. In your post, you talk a lot about eggplant (which I love) and how it is used in many ways. Did the plant you visited put eggplant in the hummus? Did they make the eggplant-tahini combination I am used to calling baba ganoush? Needless to say, I’m with you on how the Israeli hummus is unlike anything you can get int he states – and perhaps elsewhere outside of the Middle East.

  • I was worried when I saw you were visiting Israel that you would get a lot of political comments from people – I think it was inevitable, so I am glad you took the time to address it. And now I really want to go to that part of the world, too – so much delicious food!

  • Thank you ever so much for sharing the food culture of your travels, and letting us experience vicariously thrugh your stunning photos and descriptinve words the joys of such a journey. Food is a great way to share … and learn about language, culture, history. And sharing a meal ( or tips on the best foods / restaurants) can be the first step to breaking down barriers.
    Thank you for your grace in exploring food diversity; but also in your comments and feedback.
    Telling your food stories can be very personal, and allowing others to openly comment can feel like you have become a target or responsible for others actions when you are “here for the food”. David, your food and stories have positive impact 1million times the influence of negative comments. Keep them coming!

  • Wow sounds like a surreal trip! I can only imagine how good all of the hummus was. I bet you managed to track down some pretty amazing falafel too!

  • I would love the chance to try tahini in the Middle East! I like the jarred stuff here fine, but it’s no great shakes. I do like more lemon and spice in my hummus; it was interesting that one of your commentators said that was a sign of being less affluent which, in my case, fits!

  • gu: It’s sold in various countries. If you live in the US, it’s the “Sabra” brand.

    Becky: I am not sure other than to use a variety of chickpea that softens well, like they do. I know some folks remove the skins from the cooked chickpeas, but I haven’t tried that out.

    Kiki: Glad you liked the newsletter! : )

  • Thank you for this post. Israel is one of the countries I plan to visit.

  • I look forward to the day when the internet can provide tastes of all the things you photograph. I drooled through your entire trip!

  • I’m an Israeli reader and have been following your adventures in Israel with great interest. Seeing my country from the perspective of a first-time visitor is interesting, and some of the places you’ve been to will definitely go on my to-visit list. While I don’t share your enthusiasm for hummus (sacrilege, I know – but the local produce is my real love) it’s been a pleasure reading your blog posts and seeing all the gorgeous pictures.

    And if you ever make it to other countries in the region, I’ll be interested to read about that, too – maybe one day I’ll be able to visit them myself… and there is so much wonderful culinary tradition to explore.

    I hope you’ll enjoy whatever souvenirs you brought home with you, and that you’ll visit again – try it in cooler weather!

  • The Sabra brand is the only one we’ll buy!

  • I love this inside look at the hummus factory! Do you have a go-to hummus recipe that you rely on when you’re at home?

  • When we go to a new place, meet individuals from there, listen with open minds/ears/eyes, and embrace what is good. even people who bake cookies for a living may turn out to make a difference. Thank you, David.

  • Thank you for your comment and handling people so well. So Sabra is Straus – I will buy it knowing that
    Judy

  • My first attempt at hummus was so successful I would not consider buying it at a store again. I mix/blend the whole thing in a commercial bar blender. It seems to have just the right amount of action for this product. And yes, I make the tahini in there first. It’s all so simple. I suspect controlling the quality of the olive oil has something to do with its deliciousness.

    I agree with you David. Good food and good music are are the best highest denominators.

  • I’m so bummed. Sabra uses soybean oil in their hummus :(

    Do you have any hummus recipes to share??

    I loved the Israeli breakfast pictures you shared, as well. It would be amazing if you could talk more about them!!

    • Yes, there’s a recipe for Hummus here in the site, that I linked to in the post. I’m actually writing up some of the breakfasts that I had in Israel, since they were pretty wonderful. But because of the trip, I’ve been racing around and am finally getting some time to post!

  • When you make Humus, it is very important to let it cool after cooking it. The reason for that, is to avoid cooking the tahini if the Humus is still hot.
    BTW, I work in the building next to Strauss… just missed you :)
    Tal.

  • David, Am so happy you got to experience all I love about Israel. This makes me miss home so. Haven’t been back in five years since my father passed away but luckily going back this month. Even though we used to travel there every year before that I know the two weeks there would be too short to explore all that is new and good there. Now your tweets made me laugh and mostly hungry!

  • Mouth is watering. On a related note, any ideas for fresh chickpeas?

  • What a lovely post from the hummus factory! There is such a big choice of ready made hummus here,some are ok and some are better,but I still make an occasional batch of it at home.

  • I put preserved lemons in my hummus and it is delicious. I use Paula Wolfert’s recipe for the lemons and always have some jars in the fridge.

  • Hi David. I absolutely love the pictures you provided here. I’ve never had an urge to tour a hummus factory until reading your commentary and seeing the pictures. Sabra is coincidently, my favorite hummus (Spinach and Artichoke!)

  • Hear hear David!
    And BTW, I think the best raw tahini here in Israel is Yonah, an Arab brand from Nablus. Unfortunately, it’s obviously not that readily available-certainly not in your local supermarket or grocery store. Wish you’d arranged a meeting with your Israeli following;)
    Next time?

  • Thank you once again David for a delicious post. It was really informative and well presented.
    I really enjoyed having you here :-)
    Yonatan

  • David – I’m loving these posts about Isreal. I was a kosher caterer for a couple of years. As an Irish Catholic girl from the Northwest side of Chicago, it was an awesome culutral experience for me. I absolutely fell in love with Middle Eastern food. Since then, I have always wanted to go to Israel. So these posts I’m living vicariously through you! :)

    Love that this is Sabra in the US. My family goes through a giant tub of roasted red pepper Sabra almost every week :)

  • I do not care for the store bought hummus here in the US and have never shopped for it abroad. My family is of Lebanese decent and my mother always took the skins off the chickpeas years ago. now we just puree the chickpeas skin-on but make sure they are cooked a little longer so they are soft to make a smooth loose paste, as you mention. Garlic, lots of lemon juice and a modest amount of tahini go into ours, which requires many tastes until it’s just so.

    always enjoy your food travels and writing.

  • The July/August 2009 Cook’s Illustrated issue had a recipe for “restaurant-quality” hummus. As I recall, it calls for emulsifying the tahini with the lemon juice and olive oil *before* adding it to the pureed chickpeas, for a creamier-than-usual result.

  • Thanks for posting this. I didn’t realize what went into producing hummus at a large scale. It seems very “home-made” despite the machinery.

    P.S. I think it’s sad you had to write six paragraphs explaining why you were visiting Israel.

  • After spending two weeks in Israel, myself, I can attest that the food, culture and people are all as wonderful, diverse and expressive as you have detailed in your posts.

    Fortunately, I am out of the habit of reading comments on blogs these days, but I find it hilarious (and downright immature) that people find some sort of religious/political connection betwixt you and the countries you are fortunate enough to visit!

    Perhaps some people are moping at home, board and jealous because they cannot visit all of these amazing countries!

    Israel is a colorful feast of tradition, history and incredible people. I wish to go back more than anything, someday, and try some of this incredible hummus you are talking about!

    I will now go back to my happy life and stop trying to imagine what kind of comments people left about this beautiful country (or your amazing blog!) that would provoke the ending sentiments you expressed. Bleh. Time to make some cookies hahaha

  • I always love ALL of your posts, they are always interesting. I was recently in Paris and made (extensive) use of your tips and favourite places. Thank you very much for being such a great blogger and sharing all of this with us. xx

  • Does anyone else in the word pronounce it huMOOSE? I think that’s the way my grandma said it.

    And ps I’m appalled you had to make that statement. I believe that food shows we have more in common than not.

  • I’d love to see posts from you traveling to Southeast Asia… Perhaps you can visit Thailand with Pim, and if you decide to try the Philippines, I’d like to tag along for the ride!

    Sante!

  • Thanks for the picture of the chickpea pods. I can now see why they are so named and they even have an egg inside. I like fresh coriander with my hummus.

  • It’s all good, Dave. What is it they say? Everything is political. We all have to reason and judge how we interact with people. Life aint perfect. You go get yourself some hummus and let the haters have theirs. Love you.

  • Any chance of tracking down the secrets of how the exceptional tahini there is made?

  • Again, thank you for traveling the world and educating us all, on many different things. Living vicariously through you is so much fun.

  • another voice lusting after the exceptional tahini…

  • Love your posts about your visit to Israel. I lived there many moons ago in the ’70s and miss it so much! Thank you for your photos and tour of the factory. Hummus is about my most favorite food in the universe. I have never seen chick peas on the plant, either. Thanks!

  • Sounds like you had a great trip. Humus is one of those foods where texture seems to play a big roll in whether someone likes one style or brand over another. Personally, I like it drier and grittier (pastier?) rather than very smooth and moist with oil. That’s the texture of the first time I tried and liked it. Plus it was bean-ier tasting and slightly salty (which I don’t usually like) and not overly flavored by lemon, tahini or the olive oil. Must have been an American homemade concoction brought and shared on a on a wine tasteing party bus heading to Napa….The sorry (but fun!) extent of my culinary travels!

  • Oh wow, that hummus looks fantastic! I have a friend from Israel who made me hummus, and it tasted better than any I’ve been able to make since then. How is the tahini we can get in the U.S. different from the stuff you had in Israel? Is the American tahini more bitter, or does it have less of a toasty flavor?

  • David – A thoughtful, wonderful inspiring post!

    Sabra hummus is available (in giant happy tubs) at Costco, and it’s helped many a party that I know. What fun to see how it all happens!

    In Los Angeles, with the Armenian community, we have another hummus choice – hummus in a can (actually just chickpeas, salt and tahini). It’s way handy as it’s shelf stable, so whenever you want hummus, pop open a can and add any citrus juice of your choice, olive oil and then season to taste. Fresh and yummy.

    My neighbors go through two pound cans for their family gatherings but me? I use this soup can sized one and it’s dandy. Average price? $1!

  • Please keep the Middle Eastern food posts coming! I’ve been making hummus for a couple of years now and tinkering with it each time. I think I’m sloooowly getting there, having collected many tips. Next up: I’m going to try letting the cooked chickpeas cool in their liquid and also the tip from Karen about emulsifying the tahini, lemon juice, and oil beforehand. Thank you everyone! The internet and food blogs like yours have made learning to cook and learning about different cuisines something fun (at least for me, if not for my guinea pigs, hehe).

  • I have made hummus routinely for the past couple of years. I also began making my own tahini because it is so much cheaper. Easy to find a recipe for that. I began with Bittman’s recipe in “How to Cook Everything” and went from there. I found the tahini recipe online. It is fun to experiment with different additions but the basic stuff is very good. One other reason for making my own is to be sure what is or is not added–I want to minimize food preservatives and other chemicals.
    BTW, I cook a big batch of garbanzo beans and freeze them. Works just fine.

  • Great post!
    no need for clarification, I enjoyed it so much! I would love to go there too!
    Add Peru to your list, would love to tell you about our wonderful food!
    Love

  • I’m glad I am not the only one that picks my travel destinations based on the food. Israel is on the list and now I think I have to move it up faster. Thank-you David and I can’t wait to try the tahini!

    When I was in Egypt, I could have eaten the hummus by the bucketful. The recipe I brought back added ice cubes to the mixture in the food processor and it ends up very smooth and light. Thanks for the baking soda tip though, I will try that next time.

  • Thank you for such a fabulous look into what looks to be delectable hummus!
    I am hoping to see some posts about sweets that you have encountered in Israel?
    I have always been interested and intrigued by Middle Eastern desserts. They are filled with aromatic and delicate flavors, I am curious what you have been able to experience while on your trip.
    Hope you will share some recipes too!

  • Yum. This looks amazing. The roasting of the eggplants, the beautiful hummus… Thanks for sharing this tour from your trip, hope to visit sometime too!

  • delicious. The thought of a generous serving of hummus spread over a roll or seed-filled crackers is making me hungry!

  • I love your posts on Israeli food.
    Please go on sharing your trip with us !

  • Sounds like you had a great time over there…

  • Your post makes my mouth water and my kids will be eating homemade hummus tonight thanks to you! I cannot tell you how often your posts determine what we eat for dinner.

  • Ok so my comment really has nothing to do with Hummus, delicious as it may be and these pictures are mouth watering. I just wanted to say that I have been reading your blog for a long time and I was intimidated to try some of your recipes because lets face it you have so much experience and talent. I tried your Panna Cotta (w/Berries) and OMG it was so delicious. Thank you!!! Now I’m a bit more brazen and willing to tackle your cookbook recipes.

  • David: I love your blog, your travels and your honesty.

  • I have always loved Middle Eastern cuisine and your posts and pictures are sooo mouth-watering!

  • very interesting.
    middle eastern cuisine is really delicious.

  • You always have the BEST timing. Just put my thirteen year-old (who loves pretty much any and everything when it comes to food) on a plane yesterday to Tel Aviv with relatives. We are not Jewish but love that region’s food! Already, your posts have been so entertaining but helpful as well. And as for me, I’m enjoying Israel vicariously just by reading your posts. More please, more please.

  • I am most interested in the hybrid acorn squash & the Orangetti. Have you any idea if (or when) the seeds will be on the market? Now, I’m hungry for hummus ;)

  • Your explanation for the visit was beautifully put. It was fun to see the hummus factory and thanks for all the yummy pictures. Middle Eastern food is definitely in my top 5.

  • i buy the trader joe’s hummus with the pine nuts and herbs on top. i love it. is there a better one?once in a while i buy sabra at costco. love the spicey one.
    and folks israel is fabulous.

  • Dear David,
    I find it sad that you find it necessary to justify and direct people about your trip to Israel,I will have to consider if I continue to read your blog as why would Israel, be any different than any other country/place? Delicious looking/lovely photographs..
    Sandra Castro

  • Thanks for writing this post about hummus! I agree, the hummus you find in most authentic restaurants, at least here in the states, is so smooth! I really want to figure out how they get it like that. I’ve also tasted several store-bought varieties that taste entirely of sesame paste! Ick! So, I took to making my own, only from dried, then cooked chickpeas, not from canned like a lot of people do. I found it funny that at a middle eastern store where I bought my tahini, no one there made their own! :) My hummus made in the food processor is still a bit chunky, so I’m going to try that baking soda tip that you posted. :)

  • Welcome to Israel! I loved your hummus factory posting. Although I live here, I never thought about how they grill all those eggplants and peel them (by hand!) for baba ganoush. Please come back soon!

  • Now you have gone and made me hungry – again! I love food adventures like this. I have made many variaitons of hummus and baba ganoush being a hippie from the 60s helps!

    I realized that I never have seen a chick pea plant so looked it up on wikipedia – I wonder what a farm of these looks like… more surfing I guess – :-)

    Thanks for the post
    Stay inspired!

  • I have enjoyed your posts from Israel (actually, I enjoy all of your posts). I would only take exception to one comment you made–that change is unlikely to spurred on by one who bakes cookies. It seems to me that making and sharing food (especially desserts?) may actually be one of the easiest and most effective catalysts for breaking down barriers. I look forward to your further travels, and to your adventures back in Paris.

  • Thanks for there posts. We are traveling to Isreal and Jordan early next year. It will be our first and probably only trip there. I am very excited to we and eat as much as possible.

  • PS I soak my chick peas in baking soda and watch the hulls float up to the top like fish eggs or something as I rinse – it’s a rather sensual experience – that is how I soften them – but sometimes I just leave them whole as I like it that way as well.

  • I went to Israel in 1987 and the hummus was a revelation. A few years later I got a catering gig and made hummus from scratch with dried chick peas and I have never gone back. There’s just no comparison. Great post.

  • Your post about posting with a political agenda was brilliant thoughtful and so very well written. I not only respect your wishes, but can’t think of anyone who has ever put forward such a well thought out and argued position. I think it would be wonderful if everyone could visit throughout the middle east for other than political reasons, and then discuss their experiences — with people, with culture, with the land itself. Not that it would bring peace and harmony to the Levant, but at least outsiders would better understand. thanks David for your post!!!

  • Thanks David for such interesting posts on Israeli food. I am enthused to make hummus now. Thanks in fact for all your posts.
    Any chance you might visit the UK to show the food world that actually, we can cook well?

  • I’m grateful who’ve taken the time to describe all of your food experiences in Israel. I live in a Caribbean island and used to have Israeli neighbours who invited us all the time to feast on their delicious food. They passed over a decade ago, but I still miss them, the food and even though I try to recreate recipes through food blogs and others I’m longing for some “authentic” Middle Eastern food. Guess I’ll have to book a flight :)

  • David-

    Among the most luscious photos you’ve ever posted.

    I’m going to busy myself wiping the tahini off my computer screen.

    So glad you are focusing on the beautiful foods from this part of the world.

    The average folk are busy doing the everyday things that we all do to get by.

    Thank you for both photos and sensibilities.

    Fran

  • Ha! How timely with your hummus blog. My husband and I suffer the Hummus Wars over which is best, mine, or everyone else’s. I’ve taken it personally, which I’m not going to do after reading your blog this morning. (sigh).

  • Thank you, David for this post. I have forwarded it to my children to read. My daughter who lives in Korea and has been to Israel, makes her own hummus since she can’t buy it except maybe in Costco. I know reading this post will hit a particular high note with her. I have found in the US, Trader Joe’s sells very good store bought hummus when I want a quick fix.

    I agree with you about putting politics aside during your exploration of the culture of food. I think if many of us sat down at one long table to share a multicultural meal, we’d all find more to agree on and love than to argue and hate. That is one of food’s pleasures for me.

    I hope you get an exit row aisle seat on your return flight (you know I’d upgrade you!) Try bringing the flight attendants a little chocolate, they like that :-)

    Thanks again

  • David. I for one do not read your blog for political statements. Bravo. We need to stop reading politics into every facet of daily life.
    Thanks for introducing us to the food of Israel. When you go someplace else in that region I want the best recipe for Mujaradah (sp) – the rice and lentil dish .

  • I started making my own hummus last year. Homemade is certainly better, but I can only imagine what your taste experience was in Israel!

    Your writing, especially in the section on Writing From Israel is just so well done, thoughtful and intelligent. I look forward to hearing from you. Take care, Byrd.

  • wonderful post! I developed my life-long hummus addiction while visiting Israel 20 yrs ago – I think I could live off of the stuff. Really enjoyed viewing the factory

  • I use a recipe from a Sunset Vegetarian Cook Book from the 1980′s which uses sesame seeds and oil, pureed in a food processor, rather than tahini. Delish.

  • When I don’t make my own, I buy the Sabra brand. Delicious and often on sale so I can buy twice as much.

  • Thank you so much for your blog which I have just started reading. Such a suprise to see that you had been here and experienced the local cuisine. When are you coming back? I wait with baited breath for more recommendations. Would love information about any small restaurants you visited so I can follow in your footsteps.

  • David, I loved this post- thank you! That chickpea photo really is lovely.
    As soon as I opened the email to read I ran to the kitchen and opened my container of hummus. I eat it every day- I hope to visit Israel one day where I’m sure I’ll go gaga for the food.

  • David you must discuss how delicious the tomatoes are in Israel. So full of flavor it’s unbelievable!! American tomatoes hang their head in shame next to Israeli produce.

  • Neat post David. I too have always wanted to go to Israel. May have the chance in the spring. I always make homemade hummus, although I use good quality canned garbanzo beans. I need to try making them from scratch, then making hummus. And I do make mine with lots of lemon and cumin and of course tahini. Looks like a great trip!

  • Diane: My dream is to fly in your cabin! : )

    Byrd: I usually make my own as well, but on occasion, I buy it. But people in Israel eat so much of it, I guess they couldn’t keep up if they had to make it all themselves.

    BurgundyBrit: There’s great food in Britain. Although it’s not the same country, I did visit Ireland and wrote about the food there a while back. Which was excellent, which surprised me..and a few other people.

    Kate: Oddly, a chickpea field looks like a field of weeds, since they’re mostly brown and dried-out. I never would have known that was a field had Mr. Paris not pointed them out.

    Avital: I was surprised the grilling and peeling was done by hand. Sometimes medium-sized businesses can’t find machines to do certain tasks – I am sure there is an eggplant peeling machine out there but it’s probably for massive amount of eggplant (!) Someone remarked to me that the women who do it probably are bored. But actually, they sit there and chat all day while peeling – although as long as they get along, it’s probably a decent job ; )

  • While I have access to multiple brands of hummus in grocery stores in my area, I’m sure none are as good as these from Israel. I find it is worth my while to make my own hummus at home. It really is easy and much cheaper. I’ve also found that using smaller organic chick peas makes all the difference.
    Thanks for the post, David!

  • Well spoken, David. We’re talking food, and learning.

  • Oh please,more, more about hummus.. We are not able to buy here. No matter how hard I try,texture is soo bad..I miss it in a big way. I have puréed, forced through a strainer, tortured the peas in all sorts of ways. Now for the magic that makes them delicious and enjoyable? Puleeze

  • David… look for Lebanese and or Saudi raw tahini in your nearest Middle Eastern grocery store.

    You could probably find imported Israeli tahini in the kosher stores.

    AFAIK… middle eastern tahini is made using roasted sesame seeds, unlike the sesame paste sold in healthfood stores!

  • Thank you for visiting Israel and making such appropriate comments. Loved the posting about the hummus factory. I have a new blog that teaches us older generations about the wonders of the Internet through a variety of topics and visits to various websites. I’d love to feature yours.

  • It’s funny that you compare hummus to peanut butter as I have a friend that adds peanut butter to his hummus and it is wonderfully tasty. Go ahead and change your name-I think you have earned it…David L’ Paris sounds perfect!

  • David: Please don’t change – your food blogs keep me going, and I LOVE them. Can you give us all a Hummos recipe that you enjoy? I too love eggplant, but don’t have a barbecue, and a very poor broiler, but I make it anyway!
    Keep on blogging.

  • Fascinating to see the process behind foods like houmous- I eat so much of it every day but never thinking of the production behind it. And that is a brilliant idea for serving Aubergines (or eggplants, sorry, I’m English)!