Think of coffee enthusiasts if you want to understand Israelis’ never-ending quest for the ultimate hummus. Also known as the chickpea or garbanzo bean, hummus is its Arabic name, which Israelis prefer over the Hebrew himtza. The apparent etymology suggests that the Arabic word originated from the Hebrew hometz (sour, vinegar). It’s a fitting name, considering that this bean quickly spoils and turns sour after grinding. Meir Shalev, one of Israel’s foremost novelists, has posited that the “vinegar” mentioned in Ruth 2:14 – “dip your piece of bread in the vinegar” – is actually hummus. Shalev argues that dipping bread in…
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