May 13 is International Hummus Day. We have no choice but to celebrate the intoxicatingly delicious concoction of garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic – otherwise known as hummus.
The origin of hummus is cloudy and hotly contested. Though we know it originated in the Middle East, many regions around the Eastern crescent of the Mediterranean claim to be the one true originator of the delectable spread. The first real mention of hummus in a cookbook was found in 13th century Cairo, where it appears as merely a cold chickpea puree, and notably lacks lemon juice and garlic – including instead pickled lemons with oil, herbs, and spices. It still sounds pretty good to us.
Hummus remained a huge staple in the diet of many living in the Middle East, where chickpeas flourish. In fact, the word “hummus” is rooted in the Arabic word for “chickpea”! Though there is some debate over whether or not the Greeks also invented hummus, most believe that it spread between Greek and Middle Eastern traders, along with popular delicacies like baklava and stuffed grape leaves. It’s known for this reason as one of the greatest crossover foods.