In their recent book, whose Hebrew title translates The Big Guide to Hummusiot, three Israelis address one of their country’s most hotly debated questions: where can one find the best hummus? Dana Kessler spoke with Erez Tikolsker, one of the authors:
A hummusiah (hummusiot is the plural form) is a restaurant dedicated to hummus—just as a pizzeria is dedicated to pizza or an espresso bar is dedicated to coffee. It’s a kind of little restaurant where hummus is constantly made fresh, without colorings and preservatives, and consumed for breakfast or lunch. It’s a place where hummus is the main dish and sometimes almost the only dish served. . . . “The food arrives fast but it’s cooked slow,” Tikolsker said, trying to help me define something he never thought needed definition. “It is a place to meet with friends, but it’s not a place where you sit for hours like you would in a bar.”
“Hummusiot connect Jews and Arabs, and connect you to Israel in a geographic sense because you travel to get to places with great hummus, and when you do you also visit the place around it,” Tikolsker said.
He explained the regional differences: “Jerusalem hummus is sourer; they put a lot of lemon in their paste. And it is served with lots of olive oil. When ordering hummus in Jerusalem you basically get a bowl of olive oil with hummus in it. The hummus in Jaffa, the Central District, the Sharon plain, and the Triangle [the Israeli Arab towns and villages adjacent to the Green Line, located in the eastern Sharon plain] is less sour, and more neutral in its tastes, and served with less olive oil. And then there is the Galilee hummus, which I have difficulty describing but can easily recognize when tasting it.”