Fight for falafel

Fight for falafel

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.”

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