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All the Non-Hummus Dips We've Called Hummus

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We take a lot of liberties with our words here at Food52: Just take a look back at all the foods we've described as "sexy" (eileenwho even saved that article to a collection: "Advice i guess?").

But words become weighty when we use them to tie a recipe to a dish with a long history. When we call lentil bolognese exactly that, does the word bolognese lose some of its meaning? Is the pool of what constitutes "bolognese" deepened—and diluted? When we call a dip made of cooked squash, olive oil, and garlic "hummus," is it just one step toward forgetting what "hummus" truly means?

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Strange but Good: We'll Put Hummus on Almost Everything
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Strange but Good: We'll Put Hummus on Almost Everything

Those last examples aren't just hypotheticals. Especially when it comes to hummus, we've used the word to name many, many dishes that don't fall under The Food Lover's Companion's definition...

This thick Middle Eastern sauce is made from mashed chickpeas seasoned with lemon juice, garlic and olive or sesame oil. It's usually served as a dip with pieces of pita, or as a sauce. When tahini (sesame-seed paste) is added, it becomes hummus bi tahina.

...or our commenters' understanding either. Hummus, we're sorry—and we hope you take it as a compliment! We love you so much, we just want everything to be hummus. Is it dishonest? Is it misleading? Is it blasphemous? Or does it not really matter in the grand scheme of things?

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Regardless, here are all of our crimes against "hummus"—and what you had to say about it in the comments sections. Consider it an act of airing our dirty laundry.

Hard Squash Hummus
Hard Squash Hummus

"Actually I would call this Squash Pesto because it is more like a 'pesto,' which means paste, than hummus. The only ingredient it shares with hummus is garlic & possibly lemon juice. Just sayin. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone calls something that is something else and has no connection to the original recipe." -karen

Bright Red Beet Hummus
Bright Red Beet Hummus

"I want to mention that the word 'hummus' means chickpeas. The popular Arabic dip named for short/ease in the U.S. 'hummus' is actually called 'hummus with tahini.' Because one can make hummus (i.e. chickpeas) in a gazillion ways. Hence when you mix beets (or squash or beans) with tahini, what is being created is a 'beet with tahini' dip. There is no hummus whatsoever in this dish. Having said that, this recipe looks awesome and also try 'butternut squash with tahini' or 'pumpkin with tahini'—they are delish, popular Arabic variations on a theme." -hana

Tara Duggan's Chard Stalk Hummus
Tara Duggan's Chard Stalk Hummus

"Hummus misnomer here. Why call it something it is not?" -Yokeko

"Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea. If I order hummus in a restaurant and got this, I'd be appalled—no matter how good it is. Chard dip or betteré or something would be more honest." -frog

"I love chard, this spread looks like a keeper except it's not hummus. What about calling it Greek Chard Spread." -Julia Conrady

Miso Hummus
Miso Hummus

There are chickpeas in this one. So maybe it really is hummus. No one in the comments seem perturbed.

Black Garlic White Bean Hummus
Black Garlic White Bean Hummus

Hana chipped in again here: "This is a semantic issue, I know. Hummus (or Hummos) is Arabic for chickpea. Hummos b tahini is the dip that is widely popular, and given its ubiquity in Arabic communities, 'hummus' became a shortened, acceptable version of the name. But when tahini is mixed with other beans (such as this recipe) and/or vegetables (squash...), 'hummus' becomes a misnomer. So what is presented here is cannellini bean tahini dip. And that is a good thing."

White Bean Dip with Fresh Herbs

White Bean Dip with Fresh Herbs by Gena Hamshaw

Sweet Pea Hummus

Sweet Pea Hummus by Gena Hamshaw

So we didn't call that White Bean Dip hummus in the recipe title, but we did call it "hummus' spunky sister."

And as for the sweet pea hummus, we all remember what happened when a certain NYC restaurant tried to call mashed peas guacamole, right?

Not feeling annoyed yet??? Head to the link below:

Warning: These 16 Recipes Might Offend You
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Warning: These 16 Recipes Might Offend You

And if you're looking for some true-blue nothin'-but-chickpeas hummus, look right here:

Zahav's Hummus Tehina

Zahav's Hummus Tehina by Genius Recipes

Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's Basic Hummus

Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi's Basic Hummus by Genius Recipes

What other names have we defiled? List your grievances in the comment section.