One Appalachian's guide to hummus
Rick Morris was surprised to find such a selection of hummus at his local grocery store.
February 16th, 2012
01:49 PM ET

One Appalachian's guide to hummus

Editor's Note: Rick Morris is a web developer and volunteer firefighter from Canton, North Carolina.  He is one of seven CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program.  Each athlete receives all the tools necessary to train for and compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this September, alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  The seven athletes met up two weeks ago in Atlanta for the official kickoff of the program, where Rick developed a new taste for hummus.

Hummus. The very word, for those like me, not in the know, sounded like a foreign term for something gross. Globular pustules on a teenager's face. A backwoods verb for singing under one's breath (“hummus a song, Cooter”). Perhaps a brand of automobile.

Until recently, I can honestly say that I had never heard of hummus. In fact, I was somewhat taken aback when it was placed in front of me at a recent restaurant gathering. It evolved something like this...

“Want some hummus, Rick?” they asked.

“What's hummus?" I inquired.

Atlanta's crowded Flying Biscuit restaurant went near silent for a moment that day, my friends. A myriad of eyes in disbelief angled my direction. I'm pretty sure the winds outside got angry and old-man winter was preparing a cold blast of disdain to lash at me the moment I walked out the door.

I was quickly rescued by those sharing the same table. “It's similar to a bean dip,” one said. “You're going to like it,” boasted another. “Give it a try.”

It clearly didn't appear to have tomato in it (I can't stand tomatoes), and hey, I was pretty hungry so I grabbed a triangle of pita bread, spread a generous amount of hummus on it, and sent it down the hatch.

What happened next was comparable to a high-speed ride on the autobahn in an Italian sports car! My first kiss! Winning the lottery! Skydiving! Releasing the rope swing and plunging into the clear, cold water of the mighty Pigeon River on a hot summer's day...

Well, maybe not as exciting as all that. But, clearly I had found a new food that was truly like a party in my mouth. It was delicious. Better yet, I've since learned it is very healthy. Amazing! Something that tastes great and is good for you.

For someone whose Sunday dinners generally consisted of fried chicken, corn-field beans, smashed taters (if you must ask, you need to visit my area) and sweet iced tea, I had written-off ever discovering new foods satisfying both requirements.

As a member of this year's CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge, I was already in the market for good nutrition. So I decided to delve deeper into this hummus thing. I wanted to know exactly where it comes from, what it consists of, and how I could make my own.

My research into the wonderful world of hummus began online. Not to be confused with “humus," an organic matter or compost, I discovered hummus is a Middle Eastern bean dip made from a few basic ingredients: cooked chickpeas or garbanzo beans, olive oil, tahini (ground sesame seeds), lemon juice, salt, and garlic.

For someone who prides himself in whipping up the best tzatziki around – a recipe given by a Greek friend while in Europe – I'm now fully confident I can create hummus. Just gotta see if my local grocery store has chickpeas.

The origin of hummus comes from “himmas” or chickpeas, leading to the Arabic “hummus," then the Turkish word “humus," and finally settling in the West back in the Arabic style of “hummus."

As I said earlier, hummus is spelled the way we Americans see it so as not to be confused with the aforementioned English term for dead dirt. Did you get all that?

Now that I know what it is made of, I checked out the nutritional information on hummus. Rich in vitamin C and iron, hummus also provides high amounts of vitamin B6 and folate. There is plenty of protein and dietary fiber courtesy of the chickpeas. The tahini (again, ground sesame seeds) contains a healthy amino acid. And, depending on the oil used, you get a nice portion of monounsaturated fats, which improve cholesterol levels – both LDL and HDL.

So... how to eat hummus? Apparently, it can be pasted to just about anything – bread, crackers or celery, for example. My initial dish came with feta cheese sprinkled on top. Mmmmmm! I like hummus so much that I think I'll just spoon it until I have more time to ponder the varying recipes and uses.

In the West, hummus is typically served cold as an appetizer or dip, and transported to drooling taste buds via a piece of pita or flat bread. In the Mediterranean, you'll almost always see hummus served with a small assortment of dishes precluding the regular meal. That's called a “meze."

Fish, eggplant, chicken, and just about any lunch or dinner menu is complimented with hummus. Palestinians and Israelis typically serve it warm, with bread before, during or after any meal. Exotic spices such as cumin, paprika, parsley, excellent olive oil, and mint leaves often garnish hummus in Palestine.

I asked a number of my “kin folk” and local residents here in the Canton area and discovered few had even heard of hummus. A couple of them were well versed, but most had no idea what it is. Evidently, we rural, small-town people are the last to know when it comes to international cuisine.

Thankfully, this eases my feelings of embarrassment from my initial encounter with hummus. However, it bothers me that so many of us are missing out! Unlike Middle Eastern countries that battle each other for the world's largest hummus dish, Americans are just beginning to discover its succulent taste and various uses. Lebanon, by the way, holds the current record, at 23,000 pounds - set one day in 2010!

I've learned that Americans only recently began consuming hummus, with about 15 million eating it regularly by 2008. If my math serves me correctly, that means about 300 million of us were not partial to this simple, delicious dish.Probably because we had never tried it.

But, the popularity of hummus has skyrocketed over the past four years and it's safe to assume that about ten percent of Americans now partake in its consumption weekly. Maybe I'll start a chain of hummus-oriented restaurants, introducing this wonder food to all of America. At the very least, a town hall focus group.

From what I've discovered, hummus is a miracle food. I can't find anything negative about it. It tastes great, can be fabricated quickly and inexpensively, and contains plenty of nutrient rich ingredients.

My endeavor to uncover the mysteries of hummus has me feeling like I just completed a ninth-grade research paper. But that's perfectly fine with me. I've learned enough to confidently rescue the next lay person who asks, “What's that?” In fact, I'll take any moment of culinary humiliation in exchange for the opportunity to discover a delicious new food.

In contrast, plenty of visitors to my neck of the woods have frowned at the site of squirrel dumplings. But for those who try them, they are usually hooked. Well, some are just being social. I mean, it is prudent to show appreciation when a moon-shining, outhouse-using, up-the-holler-living Appalachian tosses their finest culture at you, right?

Back to that restaurant in Atlanta... as my glorious moment of hummus introduction came to its climax, our waiter was busy inquiring about our libation for the meal.

“I'll have a Pepsi,” I requested. Strike two!

“Don't you know this is the Coca-Cola capital of the world?” she asked, as the ground settled to a minor rumble. “The Coke Museum is just a few blocks away!” another proclaimed.

“Coke please,” I declared. “And, another platter of that hummus stuff!”

P.S. – If you have a good hummus recipe, comment about it below.

soundoff (810 Responses)
  1. rv media center

    You've made some good points there. I checked on the net for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    June 24, 2021 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Suspension Repair Near Me

    I really love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you develop this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my own personal blog and want to know where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Many thanks!


    June 24, 2021 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Windshield Repair Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Repairs Nearby

    I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you book-marked to check out new things you postÖ


    June 25, 2021 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Awning Repair Near Me

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to generate a top notch articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I hesitate a lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.


    June 25, 2021 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Many thanks for supplying this info.


    June 25, 2021 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Windshield Repair Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Body Repair Shops Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you ought to write more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but usually folks don't speak about such topics. To the next! All the best!!


    June 25, 2021 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I really thought you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you could fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.


    June 25, 2021 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Ambrose Economy


    June 25, 2021 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly feel this website needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the information!


    June 25, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Repair Near Me Now


    June 26, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Repair Center Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Orange County California

    May I just say what a comfort to uncover someone who truly knows what they are talking about on the internet. You certainly realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people have to look at this and understand this side of the story. It's surprising you are not more popular given that you most certainly have the gift.


    June 26, 2021 at 04:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair Near Me Now

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Cheers!


    June 26, 2021 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Repair Around Me


    June 26, 2021 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Alyssa Gottdenger


    June 26, 2021 at 06:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Repair

    That is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 26, 2021 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Repair San Clemente California

    When I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there an easy method you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!


    June 26, 2021 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Jonathon Galpin


    June 26, 2021 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Glass Repair Near Me


    June 26, 2021 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Theories Of Leadership


    June 26, 2021 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. dale jr podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Dichotomy Of Leadership

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    June 26, 2021 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

    Hi, I believe your site could possibly be having internet browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent website!


    June 26, 2021 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Leadership Training

    This is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate informationÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 26, 2021 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. new yorker podcast

    Hi there, I do believe your website could possibly be having web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, wonderful site!


    June 26, 2021 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Leadership Theories


    June 26, 2021 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Senate Leadership Fund

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thank you for supplying this information.


    June 27, 2021 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. John Maxwell Leadership Podcast Notes


    June 27, 2021 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    There is definately a great deal to find out about this subject. I love all the points you've made.


    June 27, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Rv Windshield Replacement Shop


    June 27, 2021 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Ram High Top Van Repair Shop


    June 27, 2021 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 27, 2021 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Camper Repair Shop Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repair Huntington Beach


    June 28, 2021 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Gmc High Top Van Repair

    You made some good points there. I looked on the web for more information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.


    June 28, 2021 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Approved Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Passenger Van Repair Shop

    May I simply just say what a relief to uncover someone who really knows what they're discussing on the web. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you're not more popular because you definitely possess the gift.


    June 28, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Delivery Van Repair Shop Near Me

    Hi, There's no doubt that your web site might be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, excellent blog!


    June 28, 2021 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Ram High Top Van Repair

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Many thanks! Where are your contact details though?


    June 28, 2021 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 28, 2021 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Sprinter Van Restoration Shop Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repair Shops Near My Location


    June 28, 2021 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Sprinter Van Service


    June 28, 2021 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair Around Me

    Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to return yet again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    June 28, 2021 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Repair My 2006 Dodge Sprinter 3500 Rv

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?


    June 28, 2021 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.