"¢Â While love may be the international language, the international love is the chickpea, or the Bengal gram (India), Chickpea (English), Garbanzo (Latin America), Hommes, Hamaz (Arab world), Nohud, Lablabi (Turkey), and Shimbra (Ethiopia), as its sometimes known.

"¢Â Chickpeas are a high-protein legume, as well as providers of slow burning complex carbohydrates. They can also replenish your iron stores, promote energy production, and act as an antioxidant. Of course, the properties of the chickpea and therefore hummus have been known for quite some time - in 400 BC, Plato and Socrates wrote about the benefits of hummus in their diets.

"¢ Hummus is often blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic, though sometimes yogurt and butter is substituted. In ancient Rome, vinegar was sometimes used in the place of lemon juice (lemons may have been known to Romans at the time as merely an expensive and rare import).

"¢Â When Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno joked with Israel's Yossi Alpher and Palestine's Ghassam Khalib about "hummus" versus "Hamas," he might not have known that, unfortunately, a Hummus War in the region was soon to come, where "Lebanese businessmen are making a legal claim that would designate hummus as traditional to Lebanon." The move was to make it illegal for other countries to market hummus as their own. As one detractor said, "hummus belongs to all who love it!"

"¢ As with most Dietribes, there have to be records for the biggest, fastest and strongest of all foods featured. Hummus is no different, and actually has more records than most! To wit:
Largest plate of hummus world record (set by Isreal): 4,090kg (9,016lbs?? Is that right?)
Largest pita (won by Greece): 110.2lbs
Longest pita (set by Qatar): 421 ft 6 in
Is anyone else hungry?

"¢Â Need a cure for the winter doldrums? It seems that hummus might be the answer. A recent study has shown chickpeas to have a connection to Prozac and other antidepressants, given its high levels of Tryptophan (yes, also found in your Thanksgiving turkey), which helps raise serotonin levels.

"¢Â Though you can make your own hummus, take a peak inside a hummus factory to see how your local grocers likely procures their Mediterranean mixture.

"¢ Flossers, do you buy your hummus pre-made, or make your own? I've done both, but my lack of skills make the store-bought variety a much better choice!

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"˜Dietribes' appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.