User:Dumarest/Sandbox

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This is a work in progress - the first part is the 'History' in 'Hummus' as it exists May 19 2008. This is followed by my combining my research with the original and the material in the User:Peter_cohen/sandbox. When vetted, the references will be filled out in the correct format and the new material will be returned to the 'Hummus' article.

Please review, and comment at the end of this page. Thank you.


History[edit]

Hummus with pine nuts

The history of hummus is very thinly documented, if at all. Many cuisine-related sources carry on a folkloric oral tradition that hummus is one of the oldest known prepared foods[1][2][3] with a long history in the Middle East but its historical origins are unknown.[4][5] A speculative, reconstructed ancient Egyptian recipe calls for wine vinegar instead of lemon juice, which did not arrive in the Middle East until about the 8th century CE.[6] Hummus has been noted as a food in 18th-century Damascus (although the same source claims it was unknown elsewhere).[7]

Hummus' main ingredient, the chickpea, was one of the earliest crops cultivated in Mesopotamia. Some researchers say the nutritional benefits of chickpeas may have contributed to the early rise of civilization there.[8]


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Many cuisine-related sources describe hummus as one of the oldest known prepared foods.[4][5][6], with a long history in the Middle East which stretches back to antiquity but its historical origins are unknown.[7][8]. Each of the main ingredients of hummus was known in the ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds but it is unknown whether hummus bi tahini, or a similar dish was made.

Hummus' main ingredient, the chickpea, was used as a food item in Palestine before 4000 BC and was a common street dish in ancient Rome.[1] Sesame was grown in ancient Assyrian and Babylonian gardens and is mentioned by Columella.[2].

While the antiquity of hummus bi tahini is not well documented, the use of the principle ingredients in that dish historically is more firmly understood. Of the two, chickpeas, the hummus main ingedient, have been an article of human food for over 10,000 years. The chickpea, was one of the earliest crops cultivated in Mesopotamia. Beans, lentils and chickpeas were favored in the Near East, central America, and parts of Europe. Archeological evidence identifies chickpeas in the Sumerian diet before 2500 B.C. They are given in a 13th century work by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Karim al Katab al Baghdadi of Persia for a 'simple dish' of meat, pulses and spices.

The second important item, tahini or sesame paste, however lacks a historical context. Sesame was common in the Roman kitchen and in the Persian kitchen, in the form of sesame oil, not the tahini paste that is a part of hummus bi tahini.

A number of other ingredients are used in hummus bi tahini, in various versions. The olive originated in Syria and Palestine where it was cultivated by the fourth millenium BC. A variety may have been indigenous to Crete where it was being cultivated by 2500BC. There are many mentions of olive oil in the Bible, and it was exported from Palestine to places such as Egypt. Several Roman writers indicate that salt was used in extracting the oil.[3] The lemon was last to arrive in the Middle East and Mediterranean world, originating in India. However depictions of the fruit have been found at Pompeii and Tusculum, so it had reached the Roman world, at least as a luxury import, by the first century.[4]

Regarding the components of hummus bi tahini, no firm timing or history can be documented that might combine the items into what is now the well-understood food. There is no clear evidence as to where and when the dish of hummus originated. Sources such as Cooking in Ancient Civilizations by Cathy K. Kaufman [1] contain speculative recipes for ancient Egyptian hummus, substituting vinegar for lemon juice, but acknowledge that we do not know how the Egyptians ate their chick-peas. Similarly, no recipe for hummus has been identified among the many books on cooking surviving from ancient Rome.


From Reay Tannahill, Food in History, Stein and Day Publishers, New York 1973, ISBN 0-8128-1467-1


  1. ^ Brothwell D. & Brothwell P. (1998) Food in Antiquity: A survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Expanded Edition, Baltimore, John Hopkins Univeristy Library ISBN 0801857406 pp.105-107.
  2. ^ Brothwell & Brothwell pp.157, 146.
  3. ^ Brothwell & Brothwell pp.154-7
  4. ^ Brothwell & Brothwell pp.140, 269
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Look good but the paragraph:

Hummus' main ingredient, the chickpea, was used as a food item in Palestine before 4000 BC and was a common street dish in ancient Rome.[1] Sesame was grown in ancient Assyrian and Babylonian gardens and is mentioned by Columella.[2].

needs more integration in to its successors. I suggest something like:

While the antiquity of hummus bi tahini is not well documented, the use of the principle ingredients in that dish historically is more firmly understood. Of the two, chickpeas, the hummus main ingedient, have been an article of human food for over 10,000 years. The chickpea was used as a food item in Palestine before 4000 BC and was a common street dish in ancient Rome.[1] The chickpea, was one of the earliest crops cultivated in Mesopotamia. Archeological evidence identifies chickpeas in the Sumerian diet before 2500 B.C. They are given in a 13th century work by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Karim al Katab al Baghdadi of Persia for a 'simple dish' of meat, pulses and spices.
The second important item, tahini or sesame paste, however lacks a historical context. Sesame was grown in ancient Assyrian and Babylonian gardens and is mentioned by Columella.[2] It was common not only in the Roman kitchen but also in the Persian kitchen, in the form of sesame oil, not the tahini paste that is a part of hummus bi tahini.

I would suggest Inserting combining in the epening of thr net para:

"Regarding combining the components of hummus bi tahini". After what you have written, I would suggest then mentioning the Damascus-related source used in the current article, and the 1970 Gastronomic source quoted in the OED definition that I have recently added to the talk page.--Peter cohen (talk) 20:51, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

I'll buy that. --Dumarest (talk) 20:21, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Your comments in your last paragraph have been added - as well as fix my error which put the nutritional information partly in the history section. --Dumarest (talk) 17:06, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
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Comments on above draft.

First of all, the history section should start with a brief summary of what is actually known, namely that hummus bi tahini has been made in the Levant for hundreds of years at least. We have documentation for that. Beyond that, I have seen no contemporary documentation. None.

The phrase "Many cuisine-related sources describe hummus as one of the oldest known prepared foods." is peculiar. What exactly is meant by "cuisine-related source" here? I have not seen a single source from the literature of food history which says that, and I have looked (though I continue to look). I have seen cookbooks, blogs, etc. which say that, but they provide no evidence for it, which puts them outside the category of reliable sources. They are, I suppose, a source of what you might call "modern folklore", but I don't think any of them are even reliable sources for traditional folklore. It would be very interesting to find a reliable source of traditional folklore (and there are many collections of Middle Eastern folklore) which says, for example, that hummus was invented by Saladin (though of course that would be ridiculous on its face as historical fact). That would be far more interesting that a random blog making that claim.

Secondly, far too much space is taken on the history of the ingredients of hummus bi tahini. This is after all a nicely wikilinked encyclopedia, and the reader can easily click on chickpea and tahini to learn all s/he wants about their history. It is really quite irrelevant to the topic at hand: a specific dish made of those ingredients. After all, should an article on coq au vin devote several paragraphs on the history of the chicken and on the history of wine? Should an article on frozen yogurt recapitulate the history of yogurt and of sugar, with the suggestion that the antiquity of yogurt and of sugar implies the antiquity of frozen yogurt? It is also irrelevant that a recipe in al-Baghdadi uses chickpeas in a stew. Again, should the History section of frozen yogurt mention recipes for tzatziki?

It would suffice to say "Though the ingredients of hummus bi tahini have been used for millennia, ...". As far as I know, the earliest documentation (that is, with actual contemporary sources) we have found for hummus bi tahini is in the 18th century. That doesn't mean that we might not find earlier documentation, or that it was invented in the 18th century, simply that that's the earliest known mention.

Finally, the various footnotes and references (Tannahill, Brothwell) are not clear. What exactly is connected to what? --Macrakis (talk) 22:05, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

I suggest that for this topic, the look at history of its components is relevant - it is generally accepted that hummus bi tahini is of great age, but so simple a 'recipe' is not mentioned nor is likely to be mentioned in the old old literature - so the history of the ingredients that are combined in so simple a way is relevant to considering the age of this dish.
As to the references, what I did I have seen in many Wiki pages - the page has a number of notes, by page number(s), to a single source text - that text is given in the references for the entire information on that source. --Dumarest (talk) 17:11, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Have you read the cookbooks of al-Baghdadi, Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, the Kitab wasf al-at'ima al-mu'tada, etc.? How about Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali? I have. They have lots of recipes for simple dishes, some of them even including both chickpeas and tahini, but not hummus bi tahini. And I still don't get where it is "generally accepted" that hummus bi tahini is of great age. I've been asking for evidence of this for some time on the Talk page, and no one has been able to come up with anything but cookbooks and Web pages, none of them giving any sources or evidence for their assertions. I'll be writing up my library research when I get a chance. In the meantime, it is really original research to try to date the origins of hummus bi tahini by rehearsing the history of its ingredients. Sure, that provides a terminus post quem, but the terminus post quem of frozen yogurt, say, must be sometime before the 10th century (yogurt, sugar, fruit, and ice all existed in the same place at the same time), though as far as I can tell, it is a 1970's invention.... --Macrakis (talk) 18:03, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Have not read the these cookbooks, and I really await your material. As for the "generally accepted" I should more correctly say "generally assumed or agreed" that hummus [edited to mean hummus bi tahini] is of great age, but of course without verifiable references. But it MUST be before the only reference that is mentioned, the 18th century, and it seems that a terminus post quem is a reasonable thing to have. --Dumarest (talk) 19:05, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

The 18th century is a terminus ante quem. How much before then it was invented, I do not know, but so I don't keep you in suspense, I'll tell you that none of those contemporary sources mention hummus bi tahini. Zaouali mentions a dish of mashed chickpeas mixed with spices and vinegar (? something like that ... I don't have my notes right here) which she characterizes as the "15th century equivalent of hummus bi tahini", so it looks like we can plausibly narrow the date of invention to 15th-18th century AD, with reliable sources for both ends of that date range.
About the references, I see now that you're using [1]-[4] to refer to the notes at the bottom, but the Tannahill source doesn't seem to be connected to any piece of text above.
As for "generally assumed or agreed", by whom? Not a single reliable source I've seen. Perhaps by "the people"? Perhaps by the marketing departments of commercial hummus? Perhaps by someone's grandmother? Not terribly useful to say it is "assumed or agreed" without specifying by whom. --Macrakis (talk) 19:41, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
The Tanahill reference is linked in at the actual page, not in this version in the sandbox. As to "generally assumed" that sort of means everybody believes that hummus is old, as did all the neighbors and friends of mine when I lived in Lebanon, and the cooks and the restaurants and so on. As you say. lots of indication that hummus is old, but not reliably referenced, just a general feeling/belief.--Dumarest (talk) 11:05, 27 May 2008 (UTC)