featured falafel 2

The True Home of Falafel and Hummus

One of the most wonderful features of Palestinian culture is that of food and hospitality. No where else on earth can top the level of kindness and welcome that is extended to you. For example I had a business meeting with a fundraiser I had never before met and finished by eating lunch at their house with his wife and young daughter. Palestinians pride themselves on entertaining and welcoming people into their home and with that comes food. It would be a disgrace for a Palestinian family to welcome you into their home and for you to leave hungry, there is an abundance of food, and an abundance of varieties. In the face of food being such an integral part of Palestinian culture it should be important to recognize foods heritage, understand that the food that originates from Palestine may have been integrated into Israeli cuisine but it is by no means Israeli by heritage. Even more so, when international resistance to Israel is at its most necessary, if you are planning on visiting Palestine/Israel, be aware of the historical connections the food has to land and appreciate the Palestinian roots.

I recently overheard a tourist group discussing the merits of hummus at a local café, the final decision was that Israel’s hummus was somehow tastier and that was fully conceivable, because, as one man cheerfully bellowed, Israel is the home of hummus and falafel. This is single handedly one of the most incorrect and illogical statements I have ever heard.  Starting with the absolute obvious, hummus was first documented in Egypt; Cairo in the 13th century and at the same time in Levant (Palestine). Israel was established in 1948. Spot the difference? How is it even plausible that one country which stands at the grand age of 65 years old can possibly have invented a food that has been around for approximately 8 centuries and that is only according to existing documentation?

Falafel

That’s some good falafel

It is the same issue with falafel, one of the most delicious savoury snacks to be beheld in the Middle East and yet another variation on chickpeas. Deep fried and served in fresh warm pitta bread, with hummus, salads and a tehina (yogurt) dip it is the cheapest and most delicious fast food available in Palestine.  In Palestine falafel is on every step corner, made fresh in front and best eaten immediately. Again falafel dates back to periods of time far exceeding the existence of Israel. To place the time period in context, the dialect of Palestinian Arabic (and then names given to foods) is called Levantine Arabic which dates back to the Canaanite tribes, which means we are discussing biblical eras. The movement of Arabic tribes can be traced through the Egyptian Peninsular and into the Canaanite Lands (Palestine) whilst developing foods such as hummus and other derivatives. Therefore completely unrelated to the Hebrew movement.

There is now an entire collection of Middle Eastern food that has been absorbed into Israel cuisine, it many respects it is inevitable, they border one another and Israel is established on historical Palestine, it is therefore to a certain extent natural that the food was taken on as ones own. However, this does not detract from the original point that this food is Palestinian, and whilst Israel would have you affirm to its longevity and historical roots, Palestine was there long before and continues to remain. Fiercely guarding their own cultural practices, cuisine, music and lifestyle. The very existence of Israel has been on developed upon Palestine; do not allow Israel to take everything, credit Palestine for the food and cultural aspects they have shared with the world. Next time you eat hummus or indeed falafels remember that it is a Middle Eastern Arabic food, not an Israeli food.