Scene: A ten-year-old Ruthie stands in the middle of her kitchen in rural Minnesota holding what may have been the first can of chickpeas she’d ever seen. She begins to recite in the loud, obnoxious voice only a ten-year-old could possess, “It’s neither a CHICK, nor a PEA! Neither a CHICK nor a PEA!” repeatedly, not realizing she was quoting a Saturday Night Live skit she’d never seen but somehow overheard, simply fascinated by the fact that this legume really was really neither a chick nor a pea.
Nor did she realize that this was not merely a chance encounter with yet another semi-foreign food in the pantry of her childhood, but the start of a relationship with what would become one of her favorite ingredients.
Fast forward 13 years. A modern-day Ruthie pulls a can of chickpeas from her minuscule NYC cabinet, and automatically thinks to herself in the obnoxious voice of a ten-year-old, “Neither a CHICK nor a PEA,” briefly contemplates how she still hasn’t actually seen this SNL skit, and proceeds to thoroughly rinse the contents of the can, pat them dry, spread them evenly on a baking sheet, and toss lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
As the chickpeas roast in the oven for almost 45 minutes, modern day Ruthie begins to crave homemade hummus, curried chickpea salad and Thai chickpeas simultaneously, becomes stressed that she hasn’t yet begun the pursuit of finding the best hummus in New York City, and realizes that “garbanzo” is almost as fascinating a word as the idea of a chickpea being neither a chick nor a pea.
After she’s tossed the chickpeas a few times and pulled them out of the oven, she coats them with a few dashes of cumin and paprika, a little chili powder and some sea salt. She lets them cool, then proceeds to actually watch an episode of SNL, on which she finds Justin Timberlake dressed as tofu rapping about veganism. What strange things do conspire…