You Are Better Than Hummus

Hummus and other foods as quintessential nut busters.

One thing we can all agree on is that for the most part, human existence is life in a grotesque series of soul-crushing indignities punctuated by intermittent, alternating bouts of boredom and suffering. All this yet you refuse to make things a little bit easier on yourself, instead insisting upon mediocrity at every turn.

With that, please stop eating protein bars; you’re going to die someday and that will be the end of you. Try to snatch a moment of pleasure in between the twin blacknesses of the cradle and the grave. You are a human being and the entire universe is an unending frozen scream; don’t make things harder than they already are. You can do better than this – you will do better. Keep some of the following precepts in mind and throw a wrench in the Machine.

Assuming you still have a job, and assuming said job takes place in an office building – please stop eating microwaveable oatmeal at your desk every morning. It’s hard enough watching someone make breakfast at the office, but the fact that it’s oatmeal somehow makes it worse. You already have to eat lunch here, you’re actually going to deprive yourself of the few moments of peace breakfast affords you by heating up a packet of oatmeal in a ceramic mug? You don’t even put it in a bowl! It’s the same mug you use for your coffee. I can see you giving up on joy before my very eyes.

Greek yogurt. Remember when everyone was still mad at yogurt for being bland and watery and marketed in a weirdly sexist fashion? Women rose up en masse and declared that nobody was going to confuse a picture of a slice of Boston Cream Pie with decadence.

But now yogurt is back, and that’s awful. Every company is selling their own version of Greek yogurt (it tastes the same, but thicker! Mmm) and touting the increased protein content. Did you know that no one ever in the history of anything has ever gotten enough protein? It’s true. If you are a woman, your mother has asked you this question at least once a week for the entirety of your adult life (“You know, I’ve been feeling kind of tired latel–” “ARE YOU EATING ENOUGH PROTEIN? I’M SENDING YOU A ROAST CHICKEN MADE OF STEAK EGGS AND TURKEY WRAPS!”). If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, it gets even worse. Complete strangers will dash across the street, flinging themselves at you, screaming, “But your protein, where do you get your protein from!”

Sorry, John Stamos, but I’m not buying it. Yogurt isn’t a naughty, sensual treat I get for being a woman and you have dead eyes.

Coconut water. You didn’t listen when I tried to warn you about kombucha, so I have no idea why I think you’ll listen now. All I’ll say is it’s utterly mystifying that you would shell out $4 for a Tetra-Pak of cloying and vapid coconut water when coconut milk is both cheaper and more delicious (you can put it in both coffee and curry; can you do that with your precious coconut water?). Fine; do what you want; it’s your life.

The discrepancy between hummus perceived value and its actual value is staggering. It’s a bunch of chickpeas that have been mushed together with extruded, viscous sesame juice and oil to form a mucilaginous paste. “Oooh,” you protest, “it’s got little hunks of dried-out garlic mixed in, I must be having fun.”

You are already dead and in Hell, though you do not know it.

By rights it is no better than spinach and artichoke dip, and yet many people – people who, under ordinary circumstances, appear to possess a fully functioning sense of aesthetics – accord it the enthusiasm ordinarily reserved for V-E Day. Try this little experiment sometime: throw a party and tell half your guests you’ll be serving “dip” (no need to get specific). Watch them show moderate enthusiasm and say something along the lines of, “I’ll try to make it.”

Now for the other half of your guests – tell them they can expect homemade hummus. The men will start to weep unashamedly; the women will spontaneously turn into brightly colored songbirds. Everyone will lose their minds. It’s as if you promised them a personal benediction from Alice Waters. But by what rights does hummus hold such a claim on the human imagination?

“But,” you equivocate, “you haven’t tried my hummus. I like to use white beans and a little bit of–” No. Shh. “There’s this wonderful Mediterranean market on 34th that does–” Hush now. Stop talking. I’m sure your method of whirling beans together is both glorious and unique, but hummus can never become anything better than itself.

Hummus is grey and tan and dull; it is the color of hopelessness. Dip your pre-sliced carrot sticks in something – anything – else. It is a lie designed to convince you that you are having fun; it is not an adequate substitute for joy.

Now go outside, if it’s nice out where you are, and eat something wonderful.

Mallory Ortberg

Mallory resides in San Francisco, California. You can catch her weekly Sex By Numbers column.