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Nov 29, 2007 03:34 AM

Hummus is not Greek!

During our recent trip to Greece I was continually served Tszatiki (sp?) which I have all the time as a dip with pita bread here in Canada. I was coninually asking for Hummus (hummous) and the Greeks couldn't figure out what I was asking for! Finally, I got some one that spoke English and explained it was a dip made from chickpeas, olive oil and either lemon or lime and they knew what I was talking about. They said it is either Egyptian or Turkish but is never served in Greece unless it is peculiar to one of the islands.
Dean in Canada

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  1. I thought it was Lebanese myself.


    9 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      and Israeli - Middle Eastern really - I think the only reason Greek restaurants serve it is because it's cheap and a generally a crowd pleaser and it is reminiscent of Mediterranean dips.
      carlitguy - hummus also has tahini - pretty important ingredient - and lime would not be a traditional ingredient - perhaps a little bit of lemon juice. Doesn't mean that lime juice wouldn't taste good and there are so many variations on hummus these days that are tasty, but lime would not be a traditional ingredient - in my house, traditional hummus is chickpeas, tahini, a little olive oil, splash of lemon juice, a couple cloves of garlic, S&P.

      1. re: pescatarian

        Though, the influence of the Ottoman empire in the region of Greece IS strongly felt. Dishes such as tzatziki or moussaka actually have Persian or Arab culinary roots and likely encountered the Greek tradition during Ottoman times. Though the Ottoman political empire dissolved years ago, the effects of the Ottoman culinary empire are still felt in Greek cuisine today.

        1. re: xtal

          Greek Moussaka also has a French roots- the bechamel sauce was brought to Greece from France in the 1920s.

          1. re: phoenikia

            actually you're wrong - french bechamel sauce is actually based on an ancient greek recipe, bessamel. they are basically the same thing but there is evidence of an ancient greek recipe.

            1. re: evaangel

              Most people give credit to Tselementes for bringing bechamel from France to the housewives of Greece, but I suppose some people believe that the ancient Greeks invented Bechamel sauce. You believe what you want to believe, but I'm going to give credit to Tselementes and the French.

              The Tselementes effect on Greek cooking:




              1. re: phoenikia

                I thought it was an Italian invention—besciamella. At leat's that's what I learned in cooking school.

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  Were you taught by some Italians? ;-)

                  Larousse Gastronomique considers the sauce to be named after the Marquis de Bechamel, but perhaps some Italian authorities believe it is named after someone else, or invented in Italy.

                  Seems appropriate that a rich sauce is named after a rich tax farmer, non ? ;-)

                  Marquis de Bechamel:

                  1. re: phoenikia

                    In fact I was. :) It was 10 years ago so I don't remember the rationale. I'm fully prepared to relearn.

        2. re: pescatarian

          Lime is often used in Egyptian versions of hummous.

      2. Hummus is arabic for chickpea.

        1. Greeks(especially those in Crete and the Cycladic islands) serve something called fava which is basically a garlicky, lemony spread made with either yellow or green split peas (not fava beans), depending on the region. That's probably the closest you'll get to hummous in Greece. I wish they served fava here in Toronto- it's way more addictive than hummous imo!

          1 Reply
          1. re: phoenikia

            I believe the fava dip you speak of is made with yellow-shelled lentils.

          2. Thanks for the revelation. But, aside from now placing more information in my head, I don't really care! I'm not saying that in a negative way, by the way, as I find the history of food fascinating. Its just that while this may be true in greece, hummous is clearly now a part of north american greek tradition (or at least north american greek restaurant tradition), and "authentic" in its own right. Chalk up another intersesting development to globalization

            1 Reply
            1. re: bluedog

              I am with you there. I love hummus and I don't really care if it's Greek or not. If they serve it in Greek restaurants, all the more better.

            2. The best was when a friend of mine (none too chowish) went to an Indian restaurant and nearly came to blows with the owner over why she couldn't get any hummus with her Nan!
              I was a little confused myself when Hummus started showing up at Greek restaurants on the Danforth, but it does fit with the food even if not "authentic".

              3 Replies
              1. re: julesrules

                Thats funny we periodically buy Trader Joe's whole wheat "naan", make some hummus to spread on it.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  Just as bad, I make naan and use it for schwarma. It's so good, though. Home fusion food.