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Cuisine Scene: Channel [V]'s Marty Smiley on Hommus

Friday 2 August 2013

Cuisine Scene: Channel [V]'s Marty Smiley on Hommus

The unspoken bloodline of an Arab race...

Some people seem to think a food obsession is something best kept as a secret. I’m proud of my food obsession. If you asked any of my mates - What is Marty’s favourite food? They’d know immediately. My edible Kryptonite is the unspoken bloodline of the Arab race, it was enjoyed by prince and peasant alike, it’s a class-free condiment. Wars have been waged and communities have been brought together over it. Behind oil it’d be the Middle East’s most valuable export. You could even say it’s the best thing since sliced Lebanese Bread. My food obsession is hommus.

In the same way chips are the best thing potatoes have produced, hommus is undoubtedly the most innovative thing that chickpeas have ever been used for. It’s what toast is to bread, what ice is to water and what wine is to the vine.

Lebanon is the home of hommus. When my mother, Dalal El Hage Smiley, migrated to this country from Lebanon at the tender age of 19, she didn’t speak much English... Hommus was all she knew. It was her life blood. When she met my Aussie dad, cultures collided. I guess you could say my mum was just a chick (pea) and my Dad was the blender in this hummus making love affair. That’s how I try to justify the amount of hommus I eat. Its simple, I was born with it.

Living in Sydney, I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to Lebanese food. Cleveland Street in Surry Hills will welcome you with a hairy handshake and a spoonful of the good stuff. With so many Mediterranean options, it’s difficult to pledge your allegiance to one restaurant. Who you side with will ultimately rely on your preference of hommus. What style do you want? If you want a belly dancer with your order, Erciyes is great to combine chicks and peas. But based on hommus alone, Hannibal’s Lebanese restaurant, on Elizabeth St, is the tastiest I’ve tried in Sydney.

The best hommus in Australia however, besides my own mother’s of course, comes from Brunswick’s A1 Bakery. Like finding a stray chickpea under the couch, A1 Bakery assumedly peers out from a busy, tram congested, Sydney Road. I don’t care how saucy this may sound but its' hommus is a creamy dream. Its tahini to chickpea ratio achieves an unprecedented silky smooth texture. It’s enough oil to keep the flavours fresh. The garlic isn’t lazily ground and the lemon isn’t over powering. In fact, all elements combined, its perfection - that’s a big claim, but the secret’s out now.

The only thing to do is to grab some Lebo bread straight outta the oven, wrap it up, add what you please and enjoy.  After all, it’s in our blood.

- Marty Smiley

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