Are “hummus,” “houmous,” “hamos,” “hommos,” “hommus,” “hummos,” “hummous,” and “humus” all words referring to the same wonderfully tangy chickpea-tahini dish that we have come to love so dearly? Were these words divined by the same all-knowing Goddess who procured the two very different words “chickpea” and “garbanzo bean” to refer to the same legume—a legume after all of our hearts? And if so, why?
And if they are not all words referring to the same tasty, golden spread, then are they words of eight separate meanings? And if so, what are those meanings? And if not, how many of those eight words refer to the same thing and how many to different things, and are any of those different things the same?
Is humus a type of amorphous soil, the likes of which may be found detailed across the pages of a biology textbook? Or is it a physical flavor sensation whose secrets are scrawled amongst many others on the menu of your neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant?
Or are all these words truly of the same semantic meaning, and have merely developed distinct and separate spellings due to translational differences from various languages and regions across the globe?
And how are you supposed to pronounce them, especially if your mouth is full of delectable dip perfectly spiced with a dash of paprika?
Perhaps the biggest challenge is not not knowing, but rather the unsettling desire to not no longer be among the non-knowing.
“Hummus,” “houmous,” “hamos,” “hommos,” “hommus,” “hummos,” “hummous,” and “humus”: many spellings, one place in our hearts.