Try Falafel : A Gateway To Egypt

Why there is a controversial debate about falafel’s origin ?

From the very beginning, the falafel has been part of many cultures. The origin of falafel is still controversial until today. The word falafel can refer to the fritters themselves or to sandwiches filled with them. Many countries claim the falafel as their national dish.

A widely held theory is that the dish was invented in Egypt about 1000 years ago by Coptic Christians, who ate it as a replacement for meat during Lent – It is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.

As Alexandria is a port city in Egypt, it was possible to export the dish and name to other areas in the Middle East. Especially that the Falafel is also known as taʿamiya (Egyptian Arabic: طعمية ) in many parts of Egypt; the word is derived from a diminutive form of the Classical Arabic word ṭaʿām (طعام, “food”); the particular form indicates “a unit” of the given root in this case (ط ع م, having to do with taste and food), thus meaning “a little piece of food” or “small tasty thing”.(Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, in Alexandria, it is called falafel, which supports the theory of exporting the dish through Alexandria port to other Arab countries. Still, it is not clear so far, why the people of Alexandria city called the dish as, falafel.

The dish later migrated northwards to the Levant, known in Arabic as the Bilad al-Sham and Mashriq, which covers a large area of the Eastern Mediterranean. Levantine cuisine continues to carry an influentially mainstream character in the majority of the dishes today. It is found in the modern states of Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, and parts of southern Turkey. But the falafel faced changes across cultures, where the main ingredient of Egyptian falafel – Fava beans, was replaced by chickpeas or a mix of both. (Kantor,2002) . Then Falafel became a national dish for Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, and other countries, fueling the debate of falafel’s origin till today. “Many Palestinians believe that Israelis have stolen falafel “and renamed it as “Israeli’s National Snack”.