I love the food of Egypt, and one of my favorite foods from the region is falafel. Falafel, however, is embroiled in a long running controversy of its own -where did it originally come from? Israel, Palestine, and Egypt all consider falafel, fried chickpea balls, their individual invention. In his book Beans: a history, Ken Albala writes that "the battle over who may rightfully claim falafel as their own-Palestinians or Israelis-shows that something as simple as a fried ball of mashed chickpeas can be invested with deep political sentiments." Falafel is a truly delicious food, crispy and packed with spice. For these countries though, falafel is "a matter of national pride."
One popular origin story tells of how Christian Copts in Egypt ate falafel, because they could not eat meat during Lent. According to Yael Raviv in his essay "Falafel: A National Icon," falafel is actually often made from fava beans in Egypt. Only when falafel migrated to other Middle Eastern states did chickpeas begin to appear in the recipe. After centuries of evolution, falafel has become a key aspect of both Arab and Israeli culture.
Despite it controversial beginnings, falafel is an undeniably tasty snack. I even serve it with a tomato dipping sauce.