Perhaps I Can’t Understand You, But I Can Make You Some Hummus

In this household, there are a few debates that get recycled over and over, waxing and waning in popularity. A few years ago, for example, we would get all hot and bothered about whether a full set is comprised of two separate entities, or if it is one cohesive unit.

Pop Quiz! Which of these delightful gentlemen have full sets?

My stance was that the term set implies that there are two things being examined– in this case, a mustache and a beard. Two separate things, seen together, making a full set. If a dude just had a ‘stache, he would be missing half his set. My husband’s stance was that a full set was like a pair of pants. The pants are one thing– even though they are called a pair and that some kind of duality is implied. Oh, we would get ourselves worked up into such a froth! This is what happens when you agree on politics. We are both so liberal that we agree with each other and our debates just end up being a longer version of, “Yes, you are so right!” and there isn’t a lot of fun in that.

Another thing we used to argue about a lot was whether or not I had hidden the last of the sea foam from a trip to Santa Cruz. Sea foam is a honeycomb, chocolate covered candy. Some people buy salt water taffy when they go to the beach– we get sea foam. At the time, we were living above a garage, and while it had an air conditioner, summers in Fresno get super white nova hot, and on one of those days I stuck the leftover sea foam in the refrigerator so it wouldn’t melt into a puddle. My intentions were pure! But knowing how candy-crazy I can get with certain candies (Smarties! Candy corn! Japanese candy! The list goes on. . .) Luke assumed I was hiding the sea foam from him. I will never hear the end of it, I’m sure. On his death bed, he will croak out, “Sea. . . Foam. . .” and then leave this mortal coil, having irked me one last time. That is just the sort of boy he is.

I have since admitted guilt, just to get him to shut up about the sea foam incident! It was ten years ago, for God’s sake. But let me set the record straight here: I was merely trying to save the sea foam from melting and becoming inedible. That was it, I swear! Now even I’m not sure. It drives me nuts.

Another debate we have quite often is musical in nature. I listen to a lot of music (and used to play it) and he writes and plays a lot of music, so this is something that comes up quite often. As a songwriter, he’s a bit late to the game with the whole lyric thing. He works himself up into a state with pacing (and smoking, before he quit) while writing lyrics. So, I’m pretty sure there is a certain part of him that associates song lyrics with stress. That might weaken his argument, that music is more important than words. I’m not sure. Anyway.

I agree with him, but for slightly different reasons, since while I write, I don’t write for music. Also, I don’t associate writing with stress. For me, it’s a release. So while we’re arriving at the same conclusion, we’re coming from different angles. Like arriving in Fresno, even though I’m coming from San Francisco and he’s coming from L.A. Eventually, it all turns into Highway 99.

I am a rather recent convert to rock music, or as I really think of it, non-Classical music. It’s been over a decade, and that’s still what I really call it in my head. When I was little, I listened to a ton of Blondie (God, I wanted to be her! Even when I was five! And I still do), Harry Nilsson, ELO and CCR— but then I rebelled in a big, big way. The only way I could, really, which was to go all internal and separate myself from reality, and what better way to do that than to get heavily into Classical music? In some ways, I still think Rock (Indie! Whatever!) is a way to deal with reality, reconciling your place in the world by interpreting reality though music. Classical, however, gives you the opportunity to tune out the world and replace it with music.

And given my background, wanting to replace reality with music (as opposed to interpreting reality) I tend to prefer music that is not lyric-laden. Sometimes I even prefer it when the music has lyrics that I can’t understand, because then my little internal universe is self-contained, and I can just feel however and whatever I want to feel through the music. This is why I like Sigur Ros so much, and lately Sleep Party People (even though I can understand snippets here and there), Mikael Simpson (I suspect he is actually rather wordy, but my Danish is so rudimentary!), and Blonde Redhead (they sing in English, but most of the time I can’t hear them clearly, or the lyrics are abstract enough so that it doesn’t really matter). There are more, but I don’t want to be linking all day. Most of the time, this is why I like opera, too, unless it’s in German. I took German so I could finally understand what the big deal was about Wagner– and while I’m still anti-Wagner, I can now understand what’s going on in Die Zauberflöte.

When I first met my husband, he was in a shoegaze band, so he was hiding behind his mic and his pedals and a wash of superfuzz and delay– so while he was singing words, I didn’t hear them, and what I did hear I turned into massive mondegreens! And this was absolutely fine with me.

Just recently I discovered a mondegreen. Ever since that Lykke Li album came out, I was absolutely positive she was singing that she was, “So happy, so happy,” and I loved the idea of all the crying she does in one part of the song being therapeutic and causing her to be, “So happy, so happy,” later in the song. Then, while making sure I got the lyrics right for a Facebook post, I found out I was dead wrong! And boy, was I disappointed! I liked the psychological progression I’d attributed to the song, and missed it when I realized it wasn’t there. I’d made the song more complex, and I didn’t want that feeling to be taken away.

As you can see, I'm right even when I'm wrong. I'm sure it's annoying-- to other people.

Of course, there are times when I translate lyrics and I am so glad I did. It’s very satisfying to listen to a song and have intense feelings– and then figure out like a grand puzzle that you were having the feelings you were intended to have! That is the historical linguist in me, wishing it had an appropriate job, maybe. I suppose that would be the opposite of the Lykke Li experience?

In other news, here’s a recipe for hummus. We went to a barbecue last night and had fig ice cream (What fig is in that picture? It’s not black, and it’s not green. I don’t know what that is.), which was SOOOOOO good. I love ice cream, but I might love fresh black figs even more, so if you put the two together, I instantaneously gain five pounds on each thigh. In two minutes. Superfast.

Now that's a fig.

Compared to fig ice cream (!!!) my offering was pretty meek, but I’m providing a recipe for it anyway, because everybody should know how to make hummus. It is one of my favorite lunches, and there are infinite ways to tinker with it. This is the basic recipe:

Hubba Hubba Hummus

1 can chickpeas

1 small lemon or 1/2 large lemon

2 T tahini– Taste it before you use it. Don’t use it if it tastes like old oil– a little bitter is okay. It keeps forever in the fridge, but do taste it when you get it home from the store. I’ve had good luck with Joyva.

1/4 c. olive oil– dark is best. Always, dark olive oil. Mmm.

1 clove garlic, unless you are going to kiss somebody who doesn’t like hummus.

Cumin to taste, and I use a healthy dash.

Cayenne to taste, I like it a little spicy.

Salt, to taste, I use maybe 1/4-1/2 tsp. This varies, depending on the chickpeas you use. Some cans already have a lot of salt! You must do a taste test once you’ve blended a bit. I use a blender, but a food processor is better. Since we moved, I don’t know where my food processor has run off to. Also, I don’t measure, so these are all approximate!

Drain a little water out of the chickpeas, then dump it in the blender.

Add the garlic, minced.

Add the tahini. I like the taste of sesame, so I’m pretty generous with it.

Add the olive oil. If you didn’t keep enough water in the chickpeas, use more oil or more lemon. Do give it all a whirl first, though, before correcting the amount of liquid. You don’t want to make sesame soup out of all this.

Add the lemon juice, squeezed through your hand to remove seeds.

Add the spices, according to your taste.

Blend it all up! Takes a grand total of five whole minutes, if that.

If you are in a hurry, refrigerate the chickpea can ahead of time. Otherwise, stick this, covered, in the refrigerator. Before serving, make a swirl in it with a spoon and drizzle some more olive oil on it. Then sprinkle a bit of paprika or cayenne  and parsley for extra beauty! Also, it’s pretty to take a red pepperoncini and set it on top. Or, you can just eat it straight out of the blender instead of lunch with a stray pita, which is what I do, apparently.

And now, for something completely different:

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