• In Pursuit of the Perfect Hummus: Correspondent Joshua Mitnick admits to being a hummus aficionado. But it wasn't always that way. Ten years ago, when he moved to Israel, he didn't understand the local fascination with the dish (see story). "It took me a couple of years to sharpen my appreciation," he says.
Now, he's so hooked that it almost interferes with his work. "When reporting in the West Bank or Gaza, it's hard to concentrate because I'm thinking, 'Will I have enough time for a good meal of hummus?' " In Ramallah, his favorite restaurant is Samer's.
"They make a really good version of masabah hummus. It's served with whole chickpeas on top, olive oil, tahini, and a touch of green hot peppers," he enthuses.
He recently discovered a new restaurant near his home in Tel Aviv. It was started by two Israelis and is named after their kind of hummus, meshawsheh. "It's similar to the masabah that I like in the West Bank. But it takes 10 minutes because they make it from scratch and serve it hot."
Josh says his only regret is that he didn't have more time to "research" this story.
• The Bright Side of No Interview: In an effort to solicit comment from Iranian officials prior to the US-Iran meeting in Baghdad Tuesday (see story), correspondent Sam Dagher went to the Iranian Embassy. "It's a dodgy part of central Baghdad, and there'd been a car bombing nearby a couple of days before," says Sam. So, his reception was not exactly warm. The Iranian guards demanded to know what he wanted. Sam showed a card from the Iranian political officer. That got him into the inner courtyard. A receptionist in a black veil came out, took Sam's business card, and disappeared for 20 minutes. But she returned to say the officer was busy, and "threw my card in my face," he says. But Sam saw a bright side to the encounter: Three car bombs had gone off on the route he would have taken if he'd gone directly to the Monitor office, instead of the embassy.
– David Clark Scott