Ah, hummus. How do I never get sick of you? It's one of those foods, like good crusty bread or fresh milky cheeses, that is perfect in its simplicity—its ingredients few but allowing for so much variety, so much nuance in expression. The slightest difference in pureéing method, or garlic or lemon or tahini use, can create a totally different experience.
Until I went to Israel a few weeks ago, the best I ever had was at Mimi's Hummus in Brooklyn, and I'm pleased to say that Mimi's could hold its own against many of the hummus plates I had in Israel.
But what I really appreciated, over in the Middle East, was the variety. I tried warm, almost custardlike hummus and chilled, glossy hummus; some that could be called almost fluffy, just the slightest whisper of tahini and acid; some that spoke boldly of garlic and lemon. There's hummus topped with ful (cooked and seasoned fava beans), Egyptian-style, in Nazareth; hummus with stewed chickpeas in Jerusalem; hummus with good olive oil just about everywhere. If pressed, I'd have to say my favorite was in Jaffa Port Market, in the Tel Aviv area—the lightest I tried in texture, whose chickpeas are soaked for two days before they're whipped into hummus. But it had plenty of competition.
What's the best hummus you've ever had? Where have you tried it, and what made it so compelling?
Editor's note: Carey was on a culinary tour of Israel through Taste of Israel.