Well this is awkward

Furrowed brow, more like

Look out pita, English crisps have thrown down the gauntlet.

That’s a pretty bold statement. “The ultimate hummus shovel.” Almost as bold as Kenneth Cole sticking his sartorial foot in it. Is a ridged potato crisp really the ultimate way to eat hummus? Is Syria really the best way to promote selling shoes? The former is debatable. The latter is the equivalent of twerking up against a hospital bed.

I had something for this, Ken. Oh, hang on, it's offensive.

I had something for this, Ken. Oh, hang on, it’s offensive.

Anyway, since hummus isn’t Greek that makes me ignorant about basically anything to do with the stuff. So I googled it. If you have fifteen minutes of your life that you never want to get back, you can check out a forum dedicated to that precise question. I did discover that a hummus pizza is “the bomb-diggity.” And some people eat it with a spoon or finger. Imagine that.

 

What did Thatcher do for hummus?

Nothing, as far as I know. But I got your attention. I figured, I missed the Cypriot banking crisis. I could have defended my Hellenic cousins by propounding the fact that, guess what, haloumi isn’t Greek either. And combining that with cutting observations about the dubious morality of docking people’s savings. So I had better strike while the Iron Lady’s hot news. And today of all days, is her funeral. I’m SO gonna ride those Thatcher hashtags…

But I know what you’re thinking now. How in Zeus’ underpants would she link haloumi and the Cypriot crisis? We’ll never know, will we?

Being Greek is like being a lady…

Sorry, I actually made myself laugh just then. Being Greek is definitely NOT like being a lady. There is nothing ladylike about being Greek. Have you seen pearl-laden, lunching ladies dancing on tables, throwing carnations at a singer while howling along at the top of their voice? I didn’t think so. And neither would you catch a real life, propa lady anywhere near a whole, spit roast lamb. Or anything spit roasted for that matter.

And if you don’t know what the lamb reference is about, google a picture of a Greek Easter feast*.

But when the inimitable Thatcher, love her or loathe her, said “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t,” she could have been talking about hummus. Because if you have to tell people hummus is Greek, it isn’t.

Yes, I am aware that you could argue the opposite. As in, if you have to tell people hummus isn’t Greek, it is. But you’re not writing this blog, are you?

And for my next trick

No blog post that remotely touches on the topic of Margaret Thatcher would be complete without a little political commentary. It would be like peanut butter without the jelly. Fish without the chips. But for once I don’t have much to say. (I know, right?)

I was barely old enough to play lego when she was in her second term. And by the time she left office I was more concerned about beating the boys at soccer. Not to mention that I didn’t even grow up in this country.

Yet I can’t think of that many times when I’ve walked into a newsagents and every single newspaper has a photo of the same person or event on the cover. The Twin Towers perhaps? The Japanese tsunami of 2011? This latest Boston bombing?

Just look at that list. She’s up there with terrorism and natural disasters – which, by the way, was unintentional! I’m not drawing comparisons or anything.

But her death is such a major event, that even everyone’s favourite spice girl, Geri Halliwell, waded in – and got a bit torched. But you gotta hand it to her for her honesty. When she took down a tweet in support of the Iron Lady she said:

“She had the courage to stand by her convictions. Not like me. I look at my behavior, which exposed how weak I was under fire, not like Margaret Thatcher. Rest in peace.”

I thought that sort of public self reflection was kinda cool. And it got me thinking, maybe fighting for the hummuses of this world ain’t so daft after all.

*Warning: might contain disturbing images of whole skewered animals.

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Save the unicorns

Did you know that every time you call hummus Greek, a unicorn dies? So join me in the fight to save these precious beings from a horrible fate – and give unicorns everywhere a brighter future.

Image

New Year, new spin.

Ok, relax, I’m just joking. But you’ve seen Inception, right? Remember the bit where DiCaprio’s character says “Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time”? Well, you know what, the dude’s got a point. So I figured I’d try a new tack on my war against ‘Greek’ hummus.

Let me know if it works.

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The war on error

Hey, look what popped up again. That blog you thought was neat but gimmicky – and, let’s be honest, how much mileage can you get out of hummus? My thoughts exactly.

Faced with a grim outlook wherever I turn – a “fiscal cliff” on one side of the Atlantic and an economic black hole on the other, with a few wars and paedos thrown in (some genuine, others, not so much – another Newsnight woopsy) you will forgive this poor blogger for feeling a little less than motivated.

Add to this a first home purchase. A good thing, one would think. But having spent nearly every moment of my spare time either buying DIY equipment, doing DIY, hiring someone to DIFM (Do It For Me) and then battling with workmen when they DIFM-ed it badly, one will start to think otherwise.

There’s just so much to make a girl demotivated. Until this:

Image

Uh-oh. Red card out. Name noted. You’ve been booked Asda. What few fans you have, they’re booing. How many times do I have to say it? Hummus ain’t Greek!

One down, fascists to go.

That’s one error dealt with. And you know what else ain’t Greek? Or at least shouldn’t be? Fascists. Oh yes, did I forget to mention the rise of the nazi-inspired fascists in Greece along with the fiscal cliff, the paedos and the wars? Gl-oomy! And when living abroad, as this blogger does, that seems to be pretty much all you hear of Greece these days. Debt negotiations. Fascists beating up immigrants. Fascists in the police force. And debt negotiations. Oh and the loss of press freedom.

Solidarity, not  hummus.

Thankfully I came across a lovely Facebook page called Today, Here in Greece run by Alexandra Pavlidou that tells of the day to day life for the man and woman on the street. It’s powerful stuff. And then there’s an initiative called Tip the Chef, run by Greek/Lebanese chef Fahd Hassan Kassem and co, that’s trying to combat the depression blues by offering free cooking in exchange for tips. Or how about the not for profit I.D.E.A., set up by Theo Tzanos and co, that’s running all kinds of initiatives to help out? Anything from turning a truck into a mobile shower unit for homeless people to holding food drives. And of course, the inimitable Peter Economides’ plan for saving the country – with ‘Ginetai’. Finally, Peter Nomikos, the shipping heir, has a plan for buying back and forgiving Greek debt.

These cockle-warming sort of things are Greek. Solidarity, people. Solidarity.

And as an aside, I know this post doesn’t have the characteristic wit and humour you’ve come to expect from this blog. But hey, shit’s getting serious back home. And anyway, I’m a woman – so I’ve evolved to be moody from time to time.

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Double dip recession

First things first. I ain’t dead. Just, you know, busy. With… stuff.

Second things second. I’ve seen a terrible joke making its way around (I won’t name names, you know who you are) about certain dips – some of which might be Greek and some of which are definitely not. And the groan-worthy pun makes it even worse. Reluctantly, here it is:

Things are so bad in Greece that production of hummus and taramosalata has stopped. It’s a double dip recession…

AHEM (composes self).

For all you readers well versed in the origins of hummus, go and make a cup of tea, or whatever it is you do to kill time, while I do a disapproving finger-wag and have a rant about… you guessed it. Hummus not being Greek!

Actually, that was it. So yeah. Peeps, hummus ain’t Greek. Do I really have to go over this again?

Looking at some other aspects of this hideous joke, I could go on about the sociopolitical plight of the Greek people coping with the fantastically stupid folk in a limbo-government and the various insecurities that come with prospects of being chucked out/leaving the Euro. But I’ll leave that to the Economist. Or the Private Eye. And then you can choose to either nod or giggle knowingly about this madness.

My name is Mary and I am Half-Greek, Half-Hawaiian! Or American! Whatever!

I do have to say, though… An odd  Greek-pride has emerged out of all this. Or, pardon me, I should say Hellene-pride.

It sort of proves what I’ve suspected about (most) Greeks losing their original edge, since… oh about 2,000 years ago (Sophocles, you da man – originality died with you buddy. And everyone else, don’t shoot the messenger).

Why? Well, these videos that’ve been making the rounds on Facebook with Katerina shouting “I work more hours than anyone in Europe. I am a Hellene! Not Greek! Hellene!” are a direct rip off of a promotional video produced by the Canadian tourist board. Oh, and quick aside. Since when is ‘Greek’ a bad word?

Anyway, I share your bafflement. Why Canada?

Well, that’s because the sage and eloquent Peter Economides used it in a speech he gave about rebranding Greece. Which also made the rounds on Facebook – and is a grrrreat speech (and not a bad idea) by the way. Watch it below (and don’t be put off by his Greek – it’s so terrible that he continues in English). But see what I mean? Unoriginal folks!

Last things last… If you’ve made that tea/coffee/beetroot, carrot and apple smoothie/scotch on the rocks (hey, I don’t judge) and have a bit of time, check out the vids I’ve been going on about. And maybe what Greece needs to get out of the double dip ain’t hummus production – WHICH ISN’T GREEK ANYWAY – but some originality. Ain’t it time we do more than olive oil, overpriced, crappy room rentals and resting on poor Homer and Co’s laurels?

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One weird old tip

They’re out there.

You’ve seen them too, even if they didn’t register in your conscious mind. Every time you call upon dictionary.com or stream an episode of Mad Men, there they are: the belly fat ads. And, especially in the months following Christmas, you pause for a moment contemplating the number of rolls around your midriff.

Ju-ust for a second you’re tempted. What is the secret to a flat belly? Was it passed down generation to generation, whispered from wise lips into the eager ears of young overeaters?

Probably not.

And if it was, it was likely along the lines of ‘stop eating, you fat slob, and do some exercise.’

Cut down the misnomers with this one weird old tip

They’re out there too… the misnomers. You’ve seen them. Even if they didn’t register in your conscious mind…

… ‘Spanikopita’

… ‘Taramasalata’

You didn’t think anything to them at first, did you? For all you knew, there was order in the world.

And so you pause and think, what is this weird old secret to losing the misnomers? Was it passed down through generations of scholars and scribes? Did it nestle in the scrolls of Alexandria? Was it saved by the invention of the printing press?

Nope.

It goes something like ‘get off your ass and ask someone who knows how it’s spelled.’

And don’t worry. If you want to pass that on, it’s okay with me.

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Is it cos I is olive?

Dear readers,

I’m going off the hummus piste and standing up for another Mediterranean staple – the olive. Well, ok, not precisely the olive itself, but so called olive-skinned people. As someone who’s occasionally been called olive-skinned, I find it puzzling and amusingly irritating. Why?

Erm… have you ever seen an olive? In case you’ve been living in a cave, let me help you out:

Shades of olive

Now tell me honestly, have you ever seen anyone that looks like that?

I didn’t think so. Not anyone healthy anyway! I have been known to turn green and purple from time to time but that’s usually followed by a mad scramble for the nearest bathroom. So unless I look like I’m going to throw up all the time, maybe we could think up another name? Please?

Rant over and out.

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Ironic hummus

So there I was, training it on my daily commute to work when what do I notice sat across the aisle? No, not a tub of Greek hummus. A bunch of suits talking cars and money. I was secretly amused. Smug even. I mean, how typical, right? Corporate types talking mileage and financing deals. And just then,  before my face had a chance to become smug-free, one of the suits leaned over:

“Excuse me, miss. The price tag’s still on your jacket.”

What followed was a combination of inner death and the best attempt at stoic, but grateful embarrassment the world has ever seen on the 8.02am service to Bath. Not because the tag was still on my jacket. But because I bought it at Gap’s knock-down sale for £15. Uh-huh, that’s no typo. 15 bloody quid. I know, right?

Cut back to Mortified Mary. A £15 jacket is only cool when someone compliments you on it (which they have, I assure you) and you get to say, brimming with enthusiasm, “It was only £15!” It is not cool when you’ve been walking around for the last two days oblivious to the fact you look like a cheapo or an idiot. Or a cheapo idiot.

This all struck me as ironic while I nursed a big smug-dented ego. But was it really ironic? I’ll confess, I was probably distracting myself from the fact that the freakin’ tag wouldn’t come off and the general failure of train companies to make scissors readily available. But you know what? It worked. So I whipped out my Cleverphone and checked out irony – and guess what came top of Google? Alanis Morissette, the self-professed malapropism queen, and her dumb-ass song Ironic. Which isn’t ironic. But apparently the fact that the lyrics aren’t ironic makes the song ironic. Go figure.

“And what’s this got to do with hummus?”, you ask.

Pipe down, you. I’m getting to that. What Alanis said about her non-ironic irony, got me thinking about hummus. ‘Cause I’ve got mad lateral thinking skills and whatnot:

For me the sweetest moment came in New York when a woman came up to me in a record store and said, ‘So all those things in ‘Ironic’ aren’t ironic.’ And then she said, ‘And that’s the irony.’ I said, ‘Yup.’

Nice one, Alanis. You nearly pulled it back. But not quite.

“So how’d this get you thinking about hummus?”, you ask.

Persistent, aren’t we? Well, it’s elementary. All over, things that aren’t what they claim to be end up becoming the very thing they’re not. Like……. Greek hummus! It was only the other day a fellow foodie blogger, the wonderful Kalofagas, sent me this disconcerting image…

Disturbingly Greek hummus

Do you want to know what the irony of it is? The brand is called ‘alithino‘ – which in Greek means real/authentic. And if you squint a bit under the little tree-man, you’ll see it says “natural Greek products”. Greek products! And you don’t need to read Greek to deduce that XOUMOUS, is hummus. Alas, dear readers, this is a Greek company based in Thessaloniki, Greece. That’s got to be ironic*, don’t you think?

“And the verdict?”, you ask.

Good question. Well, I can’t blow a fuse over culinary osmosis, now can I? But that don’t change the fact that hummus ain’t Greek!

*I am still wrestling with the real meaning of irony. Situational irony? Socratic irony? Pah! But this has to be closer to it than a fly in your Chardonnay. Why would that be even vaguely ironic? And what kind of freak has 10,000 spoons?

Ho Ho Hummus and a Happy New Year

You’ve put away your new socks and pyjamas. That ridiculous sweater you pull out every Christmas. (Yes, yes, it’s for fun. I know it’s not representative of your sense of fashion). And now your thoughts turn to the year ahead. What does it hold? How long will it take to burn all the calories you scoffed? Where did you put those gym membership vouchers? When will Justin Bieber grow facial hair? Always the same questions every year.

(Warning: link contains explicit facial and bodily hair images that some readers may find disturbing. Especially when you think about the last dude and the runway that’s almost certainly hiding beneath that rugby ball… Shudder.)

But amid the financial gloom, revolutions and Katy Perry’s impending divorce, an auspicious tub of hope comes spreading through… Sorry Mayans, things are looking up for 2012. The proof is in the hummus.

And as much as I love to get on my soap box, a girl’s gotta give credit where it’s due: You go Sainsbury’s! Show ‘em how it’s done. Hummus ain’t Greek!

Though – and dear Sainsbury’s don’t take this the wrong way – I have to add, if the ‘S’ in ‘SO’ stands for Sainsbury’s and the ‘O’ stands for organic, doesn’t that make the name “Sainsbury’s Sainsbury’s Organic Organic Houmous”?

Just a thought.

Sainsburys 1 – Waitrose 0
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It’s all Greek to me

Ok, what with work, moving house and back-to-back Christmas booze-ups I haven’t had time to do the sort of investigative / guerrilla journalism I would have liked (translation: I haven’t gone to the supermarket).

But that doesn’t mean I can’t still prove my point. So here it is – Hummus 101… What do we say everyone?

“Hummus ain’t Greek!”

Correct. Why? Well, you don’t see Greeks rushing off in their spare time to beat Israel’s Guinness World Record of the largest serving of hummus. But the Lebanese had a shot at it – and didn’t do too badly.

So you might want to watch this riveting vid on the making of the largest heap of mashed beans ever seen by man. Or not. Either way, you can take my word for it, that ain’t what they speak in the cradle of civilisation.

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