Introducing The Melting Potcast

By Julia Webster

In every podcast, Julia Webster will unpackage the truth behind one of the UK’s favourite dishes. Episode 1 is out now: Britain’s love affair with hummus.

Hummus has established itself as one of the UK’s favourite dips.

Hummus has established itself as one of the UK’s favourite dips.

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Our obsession with hummus in the UK is quite weird. When supermarkets temporarily stopped stocking it in 2017 due to a production issue, a full-blown “hummus crisis” was declared and a wave of tweets and memes flooded the internet. Some read: “Well. That’s my Saturday night RUINED” and “we’ll vote for whichever party reverses #hummusgate”. But the madness doesn’t stop there. We eat so much of it that our country has been dubbed the hummus capital of Europe and some universities have even set up hummus societies, where students gather to share their passion for the dip.

a very british twist

Despite its surge in popularity on social media, hummus has actually been sold in UK supermarkets for decades. Over time we have come up with our own variations: red pepper hummus has become a British supermarket classic. But people from the Middle East would be perplexed, or even horrified to see what we have done with their beloved hummus. To begin with, we don’t eat it warm like you’re supposed to, we keep it in the fridge for days, much like the pitta bread we eat it with. More often than not it’s used to dunk carrots and celery sticks in at picnics and parties, which is certainly not what it was initially intended for. In other words, we have officially “Britishised” it. But how did a peasant dish from the Middle East make its way to the UK? And why has it become so popular?

the melting potcast investigates

On the first episode of The Melting Potcast, we try to find out. We spoke to Sami Zubaida, professor of politics and sociology; Katy Salter, a travel and food writer; and Sarit Packer, chef at the highly successful restaurant Honey & Co. which serves the best hummus we’ve ever tried. If you want more, you can read Sarit Packer’s story and read her tips for making the best Middle Eastern food.

The Melting Potcast is produced by Aisling O’Leary, Jessica Browne-Swinburne and Julia Webster.

Featuring original music by Gully Trim.