Falafel are made from ground chickpeas or fava beans that are shaped into a ball and are then deep fried. They’ve been cooked and eaten for hundreds of years. Many countries in the Middle East argue over who invented Falafel. Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Israel all claim falafel to be a national dish.
The fight over Falafel even turned into one more area of argument in the feud between Arab countries and Israel. Jews and Arabs have a very long conflict that in the last 100 years has been about the territory Jews claimed after the Second World War to build the state of Israel.
In New York City Falafel can be bought at the many Halal food carts (Halal means “approved”, in that case food that is okay to be eaten under Islamic law) or in one of the many Arab or Jewish restaurants. Falafel are inexpensive and are a perfect street food – that’s why they became so popular in NYC.
The Middle East
Sixteen countries belong to what’s called the Middle East, a region connecting Asia, Africa and Europe. The largest ones are Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Iraq, the smallest are Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. The world’s earliest civilizations lived in the Middle East and three of the world religions – Islam, Judaism and Christianity were born here. Today the Middle East is often associated with wars and conflict although each country has fascinating stories, beautiful cities and landscapes and amazing food.