As a kid, the only chickpeas I ever saw came in a can and were labeled garbanzo beans. I loathed them with a passion I still reserve only for lima beans, brussel sprouts, and (most especially) asparagus and quinoa.
I have to admit: part of it was looking down on things I perceived as Hispanic foods. I grew up in SoCal and really didn’t take to Mexican food until I was an adult, and I was (unfortunately) prejudiced as a child. Now, it’s often the cuisine of last resort for me: it’s the safest and most reliable. My friend Joyce would always want to go out to Mexican food, and I’d always want to go out to Chinese, and she called it Vitamin M and usually won these rounds. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was celiac, and the foods I ate at Mexican restaurants were better for me than what I ate at Chinese places.
When I went on a gluten-free diet in 1997, I remember going to King Arthur Flour’s shop in Norwich, Vermont. I remember standing in front of the shelf of gluten-free flours with a list. Rice flour, check. Potato starch, check. Tapioca starch, check. But what were all the other options there? Sorghum, for example, and millet, and chickpea. SInce then, amaranth and quinoa have become more popular, too.
When I looked at the nutritional content of various gluten-substitute stock flours, I was horrified. They are all carbs, almost zero protein. I wanted more protein and a better carb/protein/fat mix, so I started looking into buckwheat and chickpea, which I now add to my standard gluten-free mix.
Somewhere along the line, I learned to like chickpeas. I learned to like hummus. I even have the occasional “hummus day” where I have hummus as my lunch. The other night, I had hummus, salmon, and gluten-free crackers for dinner. I kinda overdid it, but it was yummy.
Yet still, I’m not that fond of chickpeas as whole chickpeas. They’ve become something like avocados for me: I basically don’t like them, but I like some goopy thing they’re in (guacamole for avocados) and I eat them because they’re good for me, but it’s not something I actually love. I just like it enough to keep doing it.
I still don’t like the word “garbanzo” though. It sounded intimidating and scary when I was a kid. I think it’s the Z and all the hard consonants. (Though one can’t underestimate the issue of the can. I can’t stand canned vegetables.) Chickpea sounds cute and cuddly and worthy of nurture.
Shuemais said, “And now I shall play you the song of my people … ON MY GARBANZO.”
Yes, that. It’s a musical torture device like a cross between a banjo and an accordion.
I do wonder if I would have taken to these beans earlier in life if the can had said chickpeas, though.