Hummus, and other gems in second-tier cities


My favorite hummus, ever, was ordered at a Turkish restaurant called Bosphorous, located on a popular street in the mega-city (and our old home) of Guangzhou, China–population 12-15 million, depending who you ask. Quite an unexpected location for a platter of really amazing hummus, right?!

By the time I left Guangzhou, there were two branches of Bosphorous open, but the original, located near the Xiao Bei (小北 ) metro stop in a neighborhood casually known as Little Africa, was the one I preferred due to it’s…ahem, more “rustic” quality, which I personally think made the food just that much tastier. Plus the original was located next to a nightclub called 50 Cent. The club was always an option for a night out for our group of friends, since it involved going no earlier than midnight, Chinese girls dressed in turkish belly dancer outfits dancing around and on tables, and amazing people-watching. It’s also the only place I’ve seen more men on the dance floor than women, I think.

Every order of hummus eaten since 2010 has warranted comparisons to that one creamy, nutty, fluffy, olive-oily hummus, served at Bosphorous–at the long and crowded communal tables, in a smoke-filled room that was milling with so many dark-haired, olive-skinned Middle Easterners that you’d think you were in Ankara or Istanbul proper. It was a hummus that was perfectly drizzled with rich olive oil and garnished with a single olive, one olive that the Diploman and I were always wont to fight over during subsequent trips back–and there were many, many trips back during our two years there.


And such is part of the beauty of these International second-tier cities, like Guangzhou. Like Dar. For every Michelin-starred gem in Hong Kong or Cape Town, there are also equally spectacular gems to be uncovered in lesser known, smaller-named cities. Great hummus isn’t a reason to visit Guangzhou, but it’s certainly a perk of one’s time there.

Here in Dar, I’ve found excellent BBQ prawns at BBQ Village, spiced and smooth curried chickpeas at Patel Brotherhood, satisfying grilled fish on the beaches of Bongoyo Island, open-air rooftop dining scooping up Ethiopian lentils at Addis in Dar, and the richest, most luxurious seafood platter at Alexander’s Guesthouse, tucked away in the backroads near my house.

And while none of these are the sole reason that I’m here, nor are the the sole reason you should come and visit (aside from grilled fish on the beach…that’s pretty compelling, isn’t it?), they certainly make spending some time in this city all the more exciting.

Homemade Bosphorous-ian Hummus 

I’ve created what I think is a hummus, on par with the best hummus I’ve ever had from that unlikely Chinese Turkish restaurant. This is one that I proudly bring to any potluck, picnic, fundraiser, or party, anywhere I am in the world.


  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, shelled (see instructions below), about 1 1/4 cups chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • Juice from 1 ripe, juicy lemon, about 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. Chickpea water (liquid reserved from draining chickpeas from the can)
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. filtered water

shelling chickpeas



  1. Shell chickpeas- meaning, remove the bean from the translucent film covering each chickpea. This step isn’t mandatory, but it will create a much smoother hummus, separating just-average hummus from truly-great hummus! It’s a slow and methodical process, but it’s not too tiresome. The best way I’ve found is to pinch a single chickpea between your thumb and pointer finger until the bean slips out, leaving its shell between your fingers.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend for 30 seconds, or until super creamy. Of course everyone’s texture preferences are difference, so if you prefer even smoother add another tablespoon or two of water. Keep in mind, the hummus will firm up just a little bit after some time in the fridge.
  3. Serve drizzled with a generous pour of olive oil over the top.
And just FYI, here’s the address to Bosphorous. You’ll find 50 Cent just down the street…
Bosphorus Turkish Restaurant near XiaoBei metro stop
304 Huanshi Middle Road, Yuexiu, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, 510350
+86 20 8356 3578



If you remember, I tried to go river rafting a couple of months ago, to no avail.

For one last grand hurrah in Guangzhou, the DiploMan and I gathered a group of friends for a second attempt at a rafting adventure, just on the outskirts of town, about an hour from our home. I read about the location and anticipated a pretty manmade experience but boy-oh-boy, was I in for a surprise.

Imagine a very long waterpark ride, only instead of plastic tubing, the ride is made of concrete. But there are rapids, simulated to look and feel like nature intended. Oh wait- just imagine splash mountain. Except, instead of being strapped in a log-like roller coaster, you’re just sitting in a two-person raft. With a helmet, duh.

It took about an hour total to rush down the rapids. 10 minutes of that was spent being jostled back and forth in the rapids, and the other 50 minutes were spent in the three large pools that were interspersed between the dashing straits, where as many as 70 rafts at a time would gather and engage in water fights.

Conventional? Hardly. Safe? I think not. Fun? Absolutely.

Check us out, in action.

I mean, if this picture doesn’t just sum it all up….

It’s about time.

Look! Newly released snapshots from the next Hoarders episode!!

Just kidding. This is our apartment, pre-packout. Specifically, the day before the packers came, when we decided that piling everything we wanted to pack in one room, despite it seeming to be the antithesis of packing our things up, worked really well.

There is actually some strategy to the madness that you see above. We were methodically separating our goods according to how we wanted the movers to pack our things, so each room got assigned a designated shipment, more or less. Here’s what you need to know:

Our UAB (Unaccompanied Air Baggage) is a limited number of pounds that gets to be sent with us home (to the Bay Area) and then onward onto DC (where the DiploMan will be going through training). These items were confined to the dining room table. Well, it was only the table at first, and then it spilled out onto the chairs and against the wall next to the table…

Our HHE (HouseHold Effects) is most of our belongings, and is our shipment with a max limit of 7,500 lbs. that will be shipped and stored somewhere in Singapore. These items will sit patiently in a dark, dank, musty storage space and then sent to Tanzania by sea once we arrive in May of next year. This is all the boxes that you see in the last three pictures of the post…and more, because that didn’t include a few stray boxes in the kitchen and our bedroom. In other words, we won’t see a lot of our stuff for a year!!!

Vocabulary words aside, our movers were brilliant. I think we actually hired human machines that wrapped, packed, folded, taped, stuffed, unscrewed, and dismantled as we directed them to.

Some of you reading this are, like we are, going through packout, or have in the past. So you can empathize. Others will get to experience this in the future, so maybe you can sympathize. But I guess most of you won’t have to deal with moving all your belongings and having a smidgen go with you back to the states while the other portion goes to a far-away mystery storage area. In that case, you can probably stop reading here, and I’m sorry if this post has been completely pointless.

This experience, this adventure, like with every adventure, has its advantages. I hope those of you that have packed out have seen the bright side of things, because otherwise it can be pretty easy to drown yourself in a fortress of newsprint and bubble wrap. What advantages, you might ask? Well, for example, packout is the perfect reason to clean out your closet and get rid of that feather boa you collected on New Years’ Eve (but keep the feather flapper headband, of course). Packout is the perfect time to unload all your crappy booze that was unloaded unto you when others left post. And during packout, you also get to record how much stuff you have as gross weight, which can become a fun game. Our grand total was a mere 3,500 lbs, in case you were wondering, far under our estimated 4,500 lbs. Well under the 7,500lb max limit the State Department offers, so we get to collect lots more junk in the future, hooray!

After two long days of packing and wrapping and tiresome hours of instructing other people to do stuff (that was meant to be wryly sarcastic, but it turned out to be sadly true) the DipoMan and I sat down in a newly emptied living room and made a short list. A list of how to go through this process easier, and better. Now, this list is mostly for us, but I’m also going to share it with you, because if it will help you with your move, then all the better. Because seriously, in the end, this packout process is a good amount of stress with a little fun and a lot of relief, and really just a drawn out way to say goodbye to a place that I call home and people I call friends.

The DiploMan and Jessie’s Packout Pointers.

*original notes in black, added commentary in italicized red.

Things that are good to know: 

  • Reduced reduce reduce, then reduce again
  • Items going UAB should be separated into three piles according to necessity- and weighed between each to determine how much more can go in:
    1. Things that MUST go (then weigh)
    2. Things that really should go (weigh it again)
    3. Things that we would like for them to go (weigh to reach max UAB weight, if not already)
  • Hiring help just to fold clothes is a GREAT idea Our a-yi came for three full days (we were able to snag another day from a friend) and really, mostly folded clothes to be packed. It was the best idea we (the DiploMan) had throughout this entire process.
  • Clearly separate and check welcome kit The welcome kit is a small kit of plates, utensils, sheets, etc. that we are provided when we move in, to enable us to survive on fried eggs and buttered bread until we receive our belongings. It also serves, on the flip side, to allow us to live out our last few days in Guangzhou with a bit of sanity. If you’re like us, you’ll have packed a plate or knife or two from the welcome kit into the HHE. It’s not a big deal, but it just means you’ll have to deal with getting rid of an ironically dull chefs knife when you get to your next post, and that you’ll be cutting your vegetables with a steak knife between packout and your leave date.
  • Pack carry ons and checked bags first
  • 250 of UAB is two boxes, not quite maxed out Typically one person would receive 250 lbs, and persons after that an additional 200 lbs each. But because my medical clearance is still pending, we had to suffice with a 250 lb shipment. 250 lbs is not a lot between two people. Especially if you have to anticipate spending three seasons on the East Coast and you like to have dinner parties. And your significant other HAS to pack his three-piece suits for “work”. Looks like we’ll be layering during the cold season and we’ll be coming over to your house instead. But at least I’ll have arm candy as my date.
  • Post-its for jbone are useful jbone, the DiploMan’s wildly un-romantic petname for me.
  • Set aside UAB first, and in order of necessity.
  • Jessie does a great job labeling boxes Thank you. And yeah, if you don’t label things yourself, you’ll have a lot of boxes labeled “living room” and a lot of boxes labeled “books”. Be specific, and you’ll thank yourself later. In a year.
  • Be in the room that is being packed up, and label each box yourself
  • Yarn does not go into UAB ‘really’ This happened after an attempt where one of us thought that twine should be packed into our “should go” to DC pile. The other one of us condescendingly (albeit unintentionally) remarked, “Really? You think YARN should go with us, really?!”. I mean, it wasn’t even yarn. But it’s okay, that was in the heat of the moment. We’ve since called a truce.
  • Remember to pack extension cords Our home is now a graveyard of various extension cords, both 110w and 220w capable.
  • “Just as bad as it is a liar” This is the iPad voice recording feature’s transcription of ‘Jessie is bad at leaving things in the dryer’. I originally didn’t want that full statement written down, but admittedly, I kept leaving things in the dryer.
Okay, so where does all this information leave us? Here’s a Useful order of operations:
  1. Welcome kit is separated (including bedding)
  2. Pack for flight (don’t forget travel docs)
  3. Go around the house and put post-it’s on small groups of items in each room: UAB, HHE, mail, and give items
  4. Create and movie items into UAB, HHE, etc., piles in separate spaces- separate rooms, if possible.
  5. Start to pack UAB first, and in order of piles. Must go, Should go, Would like to go.
  6. Supervise while movers pack (if possible, with one person handling- labeling- HHE items and the other person doing UAB and other misc packing items)
  7. (There was something inappropriate here that was written as a joke, but I’ll let you imagine what it could have been)

Street Melons

Heyo, how was your weekend? Mine flew by, filled with good eats and fun times. I know I’ve been saying this for awhile now, but our time here in Guangzhou is really coming to an end now- less than 10 days left!!

The weather has been great lately: clear skies and bright sunny days, and shoot, I don’t know if my body has acclimated to the humidity, but it just doesn’t seem as hot as it was last year! Vendors have set themselves up close to our house, selling coconuts and huge slices of melons, for any passer-by wishing to beat the heat. I’m always tempted to try these luscious looking fruits, particularly the huge slices of melons that are sold on sticks.