And God Created Hummus

And God Created Hummus

In preparation for a talk I was to give in my synagogue
on the first section of Genesis, the one in which God
creates the world in 6 days, including Adam and Eve,
and rests on the seventh, I printed out a scholarly essay
entitled, “And God Created Humans.”

My printer, however, is very old and with every exertion,
it wheezes like a coal miner might after 40 years in the mine,
which seems like something I could say about myself, climbing
a staircase or running to catch a bus, though I can’t remember
the last time I took a bus. But I’m straying from the point,

which is that the ink did not transfer smoothly to the paper
and the resulting smear and shadow obscured some of
the words. And it appeared that the title of the essay was
no longer, And God Created Humans. Rather it read,
And God Created Hummus.

I stopped for a moment to consider what an article entitled,
And God Created Hummus, might describe. On which day
would God have created the hummus? It wouldn’t be the first
day because even the most skillful hummus-maker would need
some light to find a bowl and utensils with which to grind the

chickpeas. And, of course, God had not yet created chickpeas.
It also seems God wouldn’t have bothered to create hummus
on the days he created the animals and fish, because without
opposable thumbs and submerged beneath the seas, these
creatures could never hope to enjoy the pleasure of pushing

a pita shovel through a plate of creamy hummus. No, God
must have created hummus on the day he created humans.
And it occurred to me, maybe the Tree of Knowledge wasn’t
an apple tree but a chickpea tree! Though I know chickpeas
don’t grow on trees, perhaps in the Garden of Eden they did;

the hardy, beige globes, hanging low and irresistible, waiting
to be picked and soaked and mashed and stirred, then spread
on a plate, a puddle of olive oil pooled in the center, warm and
virginal–the most virginal oil ever pressed–and, then, some fat
fava beans, soaking like old Jews in a hot tub in Boca Raton.

But unlike old Jews, fava beans are delicious and, being legumes,
unconcerned with PSA levels or estate taxes or those SOBs in
Washington. Fava beans are fortunate, in that regard. And, yet,
again, my mind’s meandered from the hummus creation story, so
I type the words And God Created Hummus, into my browser and

am directed to a website which gives the top 10 reasons you should
eat hummus, including “Because Natalie Portman and Al Gore are
totally obsessed with hummus.” This hardly seems a reason that I
should eat hummus, but I decide to accept the premise and it turns
out they are both vegans, just like Adam and Eve!

And, now, I think of Nat and Al, naked, in Eden sharing a plate of
hummus and moaning with pleasure. Al is a sloppy eater–she will
come to hate that about him in the hundreds of years ahead–but,
tonight, when a bit of hummus sticks to the side of his cheek, she
kisses it away. And though God has created Natalie Portman from

Al Gore’s rib and though they are to be fruitful and multiply, I am
disgusted. He is old enough to be her father, for God’s sake. But
before I banish the image of the two hummus-obsessed lovers,
my mind drifts to a scene in black and white. Both Nat and Al are
dressed in trench coats and stylish hats and Claude Rains ushers

Victor Laszlo onto a plane out of Casablanca, a place you can
probably find some fine hummus. And, before they part, Natalie,
with tears in her eyes, says “But, Al, what about us?” to which
the former vice president, in his best Bogart impression, replies,
“We’ll always have hummus. Here’s looking at you kid.”

And I know this is silly. And I know this is just my way of putting
off writing the talk that everyone expects. In which I will present
the same themes as a thousand speakers before me. And, so,
I want nothing more than to stand in front of them and talk about
hummus. Not the dubious top 10 reasons they should eat hummus,

but about that day in Jerusalem I took you to Pinat Hahummus
for the first time. I want to tell them how the waiter glared at us
when we asked for a menu. I want to tell them how the pita was
so hot it burnt my fingers when I split it open. I want to tell them
how the hummus and oil and beans slid down my throat like an

elixir that ought to be bottled and sold at county fairs, to cure what
ails you. I want to tell them how beautiful the simplest things can be.
How the world was created in six days. How much Adam loved Eve.
And how much I loved you when, sloppy eater that I am, you moved
next to me and kissed away a stray bit of hummus from my cheek.

 

         

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