Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Ziyad and other Middle Eastern products at Pueblo.

The year was 1966; the place South side Chicago, in a small retail outlet; Ziyad Brothers (then Syrian Bakery & Grocery Inc) humbly began peddling fresh-baked pita bread and Middle Eastern eats.

Fast forward 47 years to 2013, West Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, United States (US) Virgin Islands.  Wandering through mainstream Pueblo Market, before me beckoned a shelf bursting with a vast array of intriguing Middle Eastern foods. Ziyad joins the ranks of Badia and Goya (click here for more about that), delightful decades-old US-originated ethnic food companies as well as the oldest US lager (click here to learn what that is) I first discovered in the Caribbean.
Got a few more of these stashed for future
Caribbean hummus batches.

Back in the days when my kitchen was a kitchen and not a galley, my large Cuisinart food processor got a regular workout whipping up home-made hummus (favorite recipe follows).  Selling it when we pared down to the barest essentials commercial airline luggage was a sad “letting go” day for me.  Sure, we picked up a little Proctor Silex mini-food processor for a cool $16 in Philipsburg St Maarten, but I had to make hummus in tiny batches.

Enter Ziyad’s Plain “Hummos,” the perfect base at a price less than the Caribbean price of the chick peas (aka garbanzo beans) to make it.  Best of all, its texture is silkier than anything I’ve ever made and the tahini’s already in it.   That was worth stocking up on (and I did)!  Here’s my Ziyad-based…

“Caribbean” hummus.  1 $1.99 can of Ziyad yields about
1 ½ cups hummus, more than 1 can of chick peas.  The lime
juice makes a good stand-in for lemon.

“Caribbean” Hummus

  • 1 14 oz can Ziyad’s Plain “Hummos”
  • 1 T olive oil (preferably extra virgin for more flavor)
  • ¼ c lemon juice (adjust to your taste – mine’s lemony!)
  • ¾ t fresh garlic, finely minced (adjust as needed – some garlic’s stronger than others)
  • ½ t ground cumin
  • pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  • salt to taste (use a light hand, add more as needed)


  • Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, ideally one that doubles as a serving bowl
  • Stir until well mixed (I like to use a frosting spreader to stir & neaten up the mixing bowl before serving)
  • Serve with pita (if you can find it!), crackers, or your favorite dipping veggies, ex. sliced cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, celery, broccoli.  Makes a great spread for tuna sandwiches.

You may want to also check out Ziyad’s website, for recipes.  They’re a bit rough to follow, but offer some great ideas for spicing up your cooking portfolio.

Landlubber’s Sun Dried Tomato Hummus 

  • 2 cans (~14 oz @) chick peas 
  • 1/2 c chick pea “broth” (juice from can)
  • 2-3 T tahini (sesame butter) — alternative — add up to ¼ c pine nut$$$ instead
  • 1/2 c lemon juice (this is a LOT more than most hummus recipes call for)
  • 1 t  olive oil (or more)
  • 1 1/2 -2 t fresh garlic, finely minced (garlic presses work great for this)
  • 1/2 c sun dried tomatoes (if in oil then skip the olive oil, if just dried, add the oil as the recipe calls for)
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

  • Place all ingredients in a food processor bowl or blender. 
  • Blend until creamy.
  • Serve with pita or your favorite dipping veggies, ex. sliced cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, celery, broccoli
  • For extra show, decorate the bowl with Kalamata olives, or edible blossoms like violas or nasturtiums or fringe the bowl in cucumber rounds