Supermarket Aisle King #003: Esti's Eggplant Hummus
Good morning! You have found yourself party to the third installment of Supermarket Aisle King. How does it feel to be here?
On a dark and stormy morning one day in late February, I found my feet plodding one ahead of the other in army green snow boots that double as rain shoes, with mid-rise light wash wide-leg jeans on my legs, getting wetter with every step as the sideways rain sprayed them.
I had on a long-sleeve ivory ribbed polo shirt but you’d never know that because the polo was under a vest. And the vest was under a water-resistant black jacket which would have been the logical outerwear solution to the quandary of pouring rain but I, for one, have a unique talent for inverting logic, so I put on still another coat — this one for winter, and not at all water-resistant.
With a cap on my head and a mask on my face and two reusable shopping bags under my arm but nary an umbrella in plain sight, I began what would become a very soggy traverse to Fairway.
It’s apropos, really, as many like to joke that the produce at Fairway is just that: soggy. But I offer an alternative perspective, because even though a typical excursion of this kind will in fact take me to the vanguard of whole foods (that is, Whole Foods,) where I delight in the heart of palm pasta flirting with the rich seeds of mustard on the next shelf over, on this particular day, I was hell-bent on delivering myself unto a bunch of bagged Dole carrots -- always bigger, often crunchier, never better but certainly, too, never soggy, from Fairway. (Shameless plug at the end of a distinctly chaotic sentence to let you know I think I need an editor if you think you need to be it.)
One thing Tony Randall and I have in common in addition to our respectively stellar performances as lead characters in The Odd Couple is finding a sense of home in the company of produce from Fairway
They (the carrots, but I guess my sentences too) chop so well. And they’re so damn big (again, the carrots, but I guess my sentences too), thus knighting themselves the ideal vessel -- like an edible spoon -- through which to consume my favorite food group of them all: the dip.
I have often said that if you are inviting me over it’s best to prepare very little. Just pull out the tiniest bowls you have -- the more the better -- and fill each of them with something different. Stale popcorn, exactly two macadamia nuts, leftover from the last time you had company. Give me a pickle, a cracker, a celery stick, or pretzel. It doesn’t matter! I’ll dip it in anything.
If you’re feeling especially hospitable, you might want to blend any questionable substance loitering in your fridge together with a can of chickpeas and some oil, then let me have it. I’ll be impressed, I promise! The other thing I just realized is that an arbiter of tchotchkes is just like a tiger in that she cannot change her stripes. Or be tamed, I guess.
So anyway, I went to Fairway to get my supersize carrots, which could have been an exercise in efficiency -- getting in and getting out like a secret agent on foreign land -- entering to complete a mission, fulfilling the mission and departing in record time, never having exposed the truth of my identity.
But that is not my vibe, I like to make myself known. To make myself known and to linger.
Linger and linger and loiter and lather my carrots in different dips.
Or, actually, you know what, I’m sorry. I’m being a little mean to myself. It’s not that I linger, it’s that I like to indulge my curiosity. To explore! I like to see what is out there. The adventure of it all -- the variety of life! -- it’s intoxicating. I’ve been married ten (8.9) years, dammit, for all I know the fish are dead, the sea no longer exists and the spice is now an artificial vanilla bean.
It took all of 45 seconds to collect my carrots before I found a shelf full of nasty-looking gum, my favorite of the sort. I scooped up a kiwi-tangerine-flavored box of Trident and continued on my search for meaning.
There is a set of stairs that will take you to a basement level should you choose to undergo the process of walking down these stairs, and if you do, you will be greeted by a dollop of disappointment. There is pasta, there are crackers -- Firehook and those nifty rustic ones that taste excellent with sharp cheddar cheese, so that is fine and well but among the refrigerated relics, you will find only one flavor of Coffee-Mate (French vanilla), which really makes you wonder how committed to the generic mills of The General this supermarket truly is. At a minimum, for the sake of the aforementioned mills, you might want to consider at least stocking the cinnamon toast crunch flavor, don’t you think?
Anyway, I was just about ready to call it in my soggy ass coat when I couldn’t find the same set of stairs I’d walked down, so I started doing loops and loops and laps and hoops around the basement level of Fairway until I encountered this teeny tiny cart full of ice that read “Esti’s” on a welcome board. Atop the crushed ice were perched four different varieties of The Good Stuff.
Kalamata Olive Hummus
I picked up one of each, effusively ready to collect them all as if baseball cards to admire, but before I could take myself through the mental hula hoop of discerning eggplant hummus from babaganoush (I’m being dramatic), I dutifully recalled that I know better now: moderation is a virtue to embody, not a pipedream out of reach. Start with one!
So I put down the salmon spread (potato is the first ingredient, it caught me off guard) and the kalamata hummus (can’t I just collect a spoonful of the black olive paste in my refrigerator and mix it with one of the others?) and learned in record time that more isn’t more, huh. Enough really is enough, huh. But also, what I already knew: the difference between eggplant hummus and babaganoush is a matter of chickpeas. Of course it is. And of course, I choose the chick. Peas, that is. It has been, after all, the year of Chickpeak.
Eventually, I found the stairs, clawed my way back up towards the checkout lane, and left. By the time I got home, my gigantic carrots had practically peeled themselves into little orange spoons and I could barely wait to pull the plastic seal off from over the eggplant hummus so I didn’t -- wait, that is. I just rammed a knife smack into the middle then squeezed my carrot spoon in. What I found on the receiving end of the first bite was…
Sorry, I’m getting a little choked up.
I haven’t been able to smell or taste a damn thing since last Thursday although yesterday I did detect a very faint whiff of cotton candy from a bowl of emergency junk food, hidden in my pantry.
If I remember correctly, Esti’s hummus was especially good with these truffle crackers that my friend Louis brought back from Taiwan, when he went home for Christmas.
Not sure you’re going to ask, but in case you do, these rings are from Daphine
I stuffed a spoonful into a pitted Cerignola olive, too, which was pretty good until I made the questionable decision to chase the bite with a sip of tequila (maybe vodka would have been better?) and surprisingly, the marriage of babammus (see what I did there) with Cocojune’s plain yogurt did not make me throw up. On the contrary, I went back for seconds and thirds. You might be wondering what I was thinking when I executed this taste test. It’s pretty simple.
I really like the texture of yogurt and granola, but my palate preference, like my overall disposition, is salty. So I mixed the yogurt together with the hummus then added sea salt and threw in some Chex mix eyyyyyyyy vwala, I probably deserved to lose my sense of taste, huh.
Talk about fun leggings.
You know what they say, it’s all fun and games until you’re wearing spandex unironically.
Signing off through the fingertips of a woman who just shoved her head in a fully loaded diaper pail to feel alive.
I felt nothing.