For many years I had a dislike for garbanzo beans, or chickpeas if you prefer. The reason for this dislike was the many 3-bean salads I stumbled across at far too many potlucks. Everybody always raved on his or her particular recipe, and I found them all disgusting. They were far too sweet in my book, and since that was the only way I was exposed to garbanzos, they got their share of the blame. I literally went decades without eating any, and I must admit that large red kidney beans are still my least favorite bean, and I love beans. I guess I still blame them for their role in 3-bean salad.
I still pass on 3-bean salad, but a few years ago somebody opened my mind up to a new way to enjoy garbanzos: hummus. The name alone is enough to turn off the picky eaters of the world, and I know plenty of people, primarily men, who refuse to even try it.
Their nostrils usually flare distastefully when they decline, the cowards, and I delight in devouring mounds of hummus in front of them. Usually they do a disappearing act, gills growing green.
The earliest known hummus recipe dates from 13th century Egypt, but chickpeas are one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops. Some wild chickpea carbon dates back almost 10,000 years. If true, I don’t believe it took until the 13th century for somebody to mash garbanzos with a few other ingredients and eat it with a wild root of some kind.
I have not found a hummus yet that I do not like. The standard recipe is chickpeas, sesame paste, lemon and garlic mashed into a paste that can be dipped with chips, bread or veggies. There are a million versions, and in the past few years it has gotten very popular in America.
By 2010, hummus consumption had increased 35% in less than two years, its use reported in almost 20% of American households and sales reaching $300 million. It is still not the staple it is in the Mideast and India, but us hummus lovers are multiplying daily.
There are those who do not trust trendy things, those who are suspicious of foreign things and those who flat out do not like the taste, but I think the name itself is what turns many people off. Hummus does not exactly roll off the tongue like “double cheeseburger” or “chunky bleu cheese” do. Love them both by the way, but hummus is a very healthy alternative to dips and sandwich fillers of all kinds.
My wife would rather eat a goat dropping taco than a bite of hummus. One taste had her “texture overload” kicking in, and she hated the taste as well. (She denies the taco accusation.)
My research discovered an interesting tidbit about garbanzo beans. A great many people worldwide believe that the lowly chickpea increases energy AND the sexual desires of both men and women. You may want to avoid serving any at the next PTA meeting.
Sheik Omar Abu Mohammed, a 16th century Magrebi Arab, wrote in The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight, an Arabic sex manual, that chickpeas can cure impotence and should certainly be eaten to serve as a sexual stimulant.
I wish I could add that he was a famous tent maker, but, alas, I do not have that information. A lady friend of mine suggested that he was probably a sheepherder, but I snorted and declined comment.
In any regards, my respect for the lowly garbanzo rises the more I learn about it. It is not just a perfect source of delicious protein and the most popular bean in the world. Nine million tons were grown, almost six million in India alone, in 2008.
Garbanzos and all of their beany brothers have one other thing in common besides being low fat and highly nutritious. They have the unsavory reputation of creating flatulence in the humans who devour them. I found the rating for the top ten beans, from the gassiest to the least gassy, and thought perhaps it could prove to be useful information to certain people’s plans. Here goes.
2. pink beans
3. black beans
4. pinto beans
5. small white beans
6. great northern beans
7. baby lima beans
9. large lima beans
10. black-eyed peas
It really surprised me that soybeans were number one. I guess if anybody out there has a hot date, stay away from the tofu burgers. It may not be a problem; many of the same people who refuse to try hummus also refuse to try tofu. They all hog chili down though.
It is said that the more often you eat beans, the less they affect you. I recommend a serving or two of hummus every day with raw vegetables or pita chips. It can be quite addicting, is very healthy and is so easy to make you don’t have to buy it prepared unless you want to.
If your spouse complains about the side effects that your hummus habit is producing, buy them a jar of 3-bean salad. If they don’t hit you over the head with it, they will eat it in self-defense and you are In like Flynn.
Just don’t buy them a soy or tofu product. You might live to regret it.