food Herb

Hummus is not enough to rescue a platter of carrots.

I was at a party, recently. Sitting on the food table was the traditional raw vegetable platter that included baby carrots, broccoli florets, celery stalks chopped into bite-sized pieces, raw mushrooms and cauliflower. A tub of hummus sat in the middle of the vegetables.

The hummus was like a lifeboat, an emergency vehicle, a triage unit of sorts should there be any survivors. The hummus was there to rescue the wreckage of what has become a culinary disaster: the raw vegetable tray.

For years, the raw vegetable tray fell in the should category. I should like this. I should eat this. I should be healthier, should I eat this.

Who, be honest, when they enter a party, spots the food table and gets a gigantic lift when they see the raw vegetable tray with the tub of hummus, anchoring it to the table as if the vegetables might fly away on the wings of their own virtue?

Hummus used to be exotic. Somebody brought a tub to a party and it was like a belly dancer had burst through the door. Now, somebody brings hummus and all you can think is that it’s more of that brown pasty stuff that’s not going to do a thing for the sliced raw mushrooms that, if at least it were Thousand Island dressing, could mitigate the mushrooms like a patch of troubled soil.

However, you can’t blame hummus for the vegetable platter. It’s doing what it can do. Hummus can’t turn a broccoli floret into a potato wedge. It would if it could but it can’t.

A raw vegetable platter is an appetite suppressant. People wonder: “Did I take my meds today? I thought I did, but if I did, why am I so feeling sad? Like there is no reason to live.”

The first thing you do when you face a raw vegetable platter is to do a visual assessment. Is there anything on there you want to eat? Most people go around a second time, hoping that somehow they missed a tantalizing vegetable or at least a neutral one like jicama.

Baby carrots. I like carrots but there are too many of them in the world. Carrots are like squirrels on the bike path. Every time you turn around, you’re running over one.

Raw broccoli? Who ever thought that was a good idea.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on raw cauliflower because if raw broccoli is a bad idea, raw cauliflower is worse. First, the color. If a friend showed up and his face was cauliflower-white, you’d be alarmed. You would advise him to go outside without sunscreen or a hat.

When was the last time a condemned man said, “I’d like some raw cauliflower as my last meal? In fact, that sounds so good may I have the rest of the vegetable platter too instead of a ribeye, shoestring potatoes and cheese bread?”


Just when all hope was lost and people had circled the vegetable platter like the moon does the earth, a pizza delivery man walked through the door with five extra-large pizzas, piping hot and piled with pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, chicken and pineapple.

Guests deserted the raw vegetable platter en masse for the pizzas. They oohed, they ahhed and they ate. A raw vegetable platter makes you appreciate how good hot-out-of-the-oven pizza can be.


Speaking of wonderful, Jake’s has brought back their fresh-baked lime sugar cookie. Sarah and her brilliant baker Allie, who already makes the best chocolate chip cookies in town, have raised the cookie bar. The lime sugar cookie — sugar cookie base, lime juice, lime zest and then rolled in sugar — is a cookie miracle. I bought one pack (a four-count) for lunch, and before I left, I bought another one.

If you like a great cookie, try these.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.

(1) comment


Great valid points! I do make a Broccoli Apple Salad that my friends go nuts over. I wash the florets very good and cut them real small, Is the sauce that makes the salad incredible. 1/2 cup may, 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1 tbls of sugar 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper. With 2 tbls of lemon juice. Shredded carrots, Purple Onion, Pecans and dried cranberries and apples 2 of them. Use to not eat stuff like this. It sounded very yummy. It is.

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