Monday, May 23, 2005

The Chickpea and the Middle East

The last thing I posted was a joke from The Onion. I should have guessed that that there would be a crazier true story.

The last time you bit into a falafel sandwich you were probably thinking about nothing more than the warm spice and crunch of the chickpea fritters and the way they played against the soft bread, crisp vegetables and nutty tahini sauce.

Unless you're Palestinian, in which case you may have had weightier culinary issues on your mind.

Many Palestinians believe that Israelis have stolen falafel, a traditional Arab food, and passed it off as what postcards at tourist kiosks all over Israel call "Israel's National Snack."

"We always sort of look at each other and roll our eyeballs when we pass a restaurant that says `Israeli falafel,' " said Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American and a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Chicago.

Some do more than roll eyeballs. Aziz Shihab, a Palestinian-American and the author of the cookbook "A Taste of Palestine," once picked an argument with the owners of an Israeli restaurant in Dallas that served falafel. "This is my mother's food," he said. "This is my grandfather's food. What do you mean you're serving it as your food?"

read the whole thing ......

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