First it was hummus, now it’s falafel. It was serial entrepreneur and IDF soldier, 18-year-old Ben Lang, a recent American immigrant to Israel, who pioneered Hummus Day, held last month on May 15. He’s hoping for a better showing on Tuesday’s International Falafel Day, with thousands, nay, millions eating, tweeting (#falafelday), photographing and Facebooking about falafel, that favorite Middle Eastern fried chickpea treat.
Hummus Day, said Lang, was a sorely underplanned event, and he wondered how far he could get with a bit more preparation, given that hummus-related mentions and events “exploded on the event day itself.”
The interest in falafel is international, and participants in Lang’s event will represent a range of countries, including India, Chile and Sweden, as well as several Middle Eastern nations, harkening to the ongoing hummus wars between Arab countries and Israel.
It appeared that Jerusalem falafel shop owners hadn’t heard about the international appreciation day, but some had their own thoughts as to why falafel remains popular.
Meir Carmel, owner of Mifgash Hasadna in Talpiot, feels it’s all about the taste and size of the falafel balls, the variety of the salads, and of no less importance, the “long-term relationship” between a falafel maker and his customers.
Roee Nissim, owner of Falafel Dal Kaloriot (Diet Falafel, possibly a misnomer for a fried chickpea ball purveyor), eats falafel at least four times a week and stands by its nutritional value. Even the addition of sabich — the more recently popular deep-fried eggplant, potato and chopped salad pita sandwich — to his menu doesn’t decrease falafel sales, said Nissim, as “sabich is too heavy to compare to falafel for a light lunch.”
Long live the falafel; and be sure to show your support.