Cancer had done strange things to Maybeth. The first strange thing was the taste of silver in her mouth, like there was a fork in it, always. Dr. Wineslaw had explained the reason for this to her but Maybeth forgot it instantly, an affect of the chemo. If her mouth was a fork, her brain was now a sieve.
The second strange thing was that she had cravings. Rather than the desire to abandon all food because of the fierce nausea, as Dr. Wineslaw had warned her, Maybeth found that she was drawn to a small, select list of foods that offered pure pleasure and no pain. She could eat peanut butter, hummus, and cream cheese endlessly. Strangely, the more neutral and blameless of foods- stale crackers, white bread, left her reeling. Maybeth found herself, weeks into Round 3 of chemo, with a house full of spreads and nothing on which to spread them.
The third strange thing, which she considered now with a spoonful of hummus in her hand, was that the only companionship she could endure during her treatment was her mother’s.
“And then I told him, I said, Jacob, if you put that in my cart, you are asking for serious trouble.” Cindy Patridge paused in the middle of her story and glanced up at her daughter. They sat cross-legged from each other on the floor where her mother clipped coupons, the chain from her glasses dangling from either side of her face like tinny curtains. “Are you listening to me, Maybeth?”
“Uh huh.” Maybeth’s lips twitched as she brought the hummus to her mouth. Her mother, a notorious cheapskate, self-involved and self-obsessed to the core, demanded an audience at all times for her long and winding and tedious stories. Cindy Patridge was always in an uproar over something, from the diminishing width of the lanes on the Southbay expressway to the quality of the sermon at Woodbury Presbyterian. She was loud, she smelled like patchouli oil and grass clippings, she wore socks with sandals throughout summer, and was thoroughly unaware of how widely she was disliked by her friends, family and community at large. She had little to no patience for the tribulations of others.
She never lingered, either, over Maybeth’s stories about her treatments. She did not ask follow up questions when Dr. Wineslaw gave them the latest reports. She huffed impatiently when the nurses swung over to check Maybeth’s vitals if they happened to interrupt one of Cindy’s stories by doing so. She brought terribly inappropriate things to Maybeth’s bedside like off-brand watermelon candy and tiny bottles of vodka from the airplane, romance novels that Maybeth would never read in her lifetime, and pictures of relatives who were “either dead or insane” her mother would say after each one and throw them gleefully into a pile. She acted the same way now as she had when Maybeth was a healthy ten-year-old. At fifteen. At twenty-two. At thirty-five. Nothing for Cindy Patridge had changed in the slightest. There was no “new normal” and “old normal.” There was just Cindy telling her that her cat had gotten stuck in the bathtub for twelve days and she’d called the fire department because they were the only ones who could get close to the ornery beast, with it mangled fur and claws. “That’s going to be me when I go,” Cindy snorted.
Maybeth had smiled at the time and swirled the spoon through the bowl, enjoying the ripple it made. “Then what happened, Mom?”
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Basic Hummus Recipe
Source: Jerusalem | Makes: 6 servings | Print Recipe
NOTE: You’ll need to soak dried chickpeas overnight!
1 and 1/4 Cup of dried chickpeas
1 Teaspoon of baking soda
6 and 1/2 Cups of water
1 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons of tahini (light roast)
4 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 Cloves of garlic, crushed
6 and 1/2 Tablespoons and ice cold water
Good quality olive oil, to serve (optional)
Toasted pine nuts, to serve (optional)
1. The night before, place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water (at least twice their volume) and leave to soak overnight.
2. The next day… drain chickpeas.
3. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on type and freshness. Once done, they should be very tender and break up easily between you fingers but not quite mushy.
4. Drain the chickpeas (again). You should have about 3 and 2/3 cups which you will put into a food processor and process into a stiff paste. With the machine running, add tahini, lemon juice, garlic cloves and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
5. Finally, drizzle in the ice water slowly and allow it to mix for 5 minutes until you get a smooth and creamy paste.
4. Transfer hummus to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. If refrigerating for later use, bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. To serve, drizzle with good olive oil and a scattering of pine nuts.
Hummus will keep in the fridge up to 3 days. If it lasts that long.