Hidden Nook

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Friday, May 27, 2005

The Evolving Israeli Falafel

[Media Source*]

"I actually call it a tuna beignet," [Ido Shapira] said, before launching into an explanation of how he mixes fresh fish with a variety of spices and shapes it into small balls. After deep-frying them in a coat of breadcrumbs, he nestles each one in a martini glass, where it floats in a pool of mango salsa.

"But," he added helpfully, "I do make a dessert I call 'chocolate falafel,' which is a chocolate truffle deep-fried in a coat of breadcrumbs and nuts. People love it. After all, falafel is still one of the most popular foods in Israel."

Ido Shapira, a chef at one of Israel's finest catering companies, Katlit, reflects the "falafel attitude" amongst Israeli's by serving up new dishes of the middle east treat. Falafel's are perhaps one of the major "food groups" in Israel (or at least should be) and a traveler can not begin to understand the Israeli culture without trying out this dish.

A little over a decade ago, Shani's shrimp falafel, which vied for attention with his crabmeat kebab, was the first Trojan horse to infiltrate the domain of traditional falafel. Shortly after, Orna Agmon and Ella Shine, the owners of the upscale and consistently popular Orna and Ella cafe on Tel Aviv's Rehov Sheinkin, began thinking about opening their own falafel place. For three years, they researched both this dish's origins and the series of grassroots transformations it had undergone in the hands of Israeli falafel stand owners.

"We were constantly thinking about how to innovate while preserving the essence of falafel-ness," Shine explains. "We wanted to maintain a certain kind of integrity, not to mix everything with everything. There were certain boundaries we felt we wouldn't cross...The generation that followed us already did much crazier things."

Although this may seem like a "useless post" about a favorite food throughout the Holy Land, unless someone has personally visited Israel then an outsider will never understand the importance of Falafel's in the Israeli culture. If a blogger is interested in trying out this dish, simply follow these instructions and soon one will realize that they are truly missing out in the Holy Land. Here is a picture of a falafel if one is curious as to what the final treat looks like. Shalom!

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By Darnell Clayton • 12:54 AM • Email Post • •


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