|Josh Lipowsky eats for Israel.|
While parade-goers migrated to Central Park for a concert sponsored by the National Council of Young Israel, I headed to Midtown toward Pitopia on Broadway for the restaurant’s falafel eating contest.
Just the week before, I had tied for second place at the Teaneck Memorial Day Street Fair pickle eating contest – which I won in 2011 – and I’m a regular in Ma’adan’s annual latke eating contest. Falafel seemed like the next challenge. I had hoped to place at least third and take home a Pitopia gift card, but alas, the Falafel Force was not with me.
I lined up with 12 other contestants, Jewish and non-Jewish, young and old, each of us with a bowl of 15 falafel balls. The goal was to be the first to finish. There was no time limit, no points for almost finishing, no sudden death – we hoped. Bowls of tahini were placed in front and the contest began.
I missed third place by just two falafels. I blame it on hours in the heat killing my appetite. Jamie McDonald, 36, of Hartford, Conn., finished first and claimed the prize, an iPad Mini. Wearing an orange T-shirt from Rocco’s Pizza in Brooklyn, he explained that he had just come from the restaurant’s pizza-eating contest, which he won by eating 30 slices in 12 minutes. I gaped in awe at his gastronomic prowess and he explained that he’s competed in hamantaschen contests before but this was his first competition featuring falafel.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “Falafel are just naturally dry. You have to drink as much water as possible.”