This week, Google Doodle celebrated falafel, calling it the “best thing that ever happened to chickpeas.”
Tuesday’s Doodle — the piece of art that shows up on your screen when you first go to Google — was three smiling falafel balls hopping into an open pita after one of them slathers it with hummus (or is that tahini?) and tossing in some chopped cucumbers and tomatoes — in other words, Israeli salad.
Google explained that “the exact origins of this spicy street food have been lost to the mists of time,” though there are some who would beg to differ.
In October, for example, a Palestinian reporter speaking on the official Palestinian Authority TV claimed that Israel has launched a “brutal attack on Palestinian heritage, including Palestinian foods,” citing falafel and hummus. (The Palestinian Media Watch translated a video clip of the report.)
Google notes that “falafel has been enjoyed for centuries in many different cultures,” and adds that “Israel has a song to celebrate its love affair with the tried-and-true treat, entitled ‘And We Have Falafel.’”
Falafel is believed to have originated in Egypt, with the fried balls made out of fava beans, and then spread to the eastern Mediterranean. Its name derives from a Levantine Arabic word. Most Middle Eastern countries make their falafel with chickpeas. (India, by the way, produces most of the world’s chickpeas.)
The world’s largest falafel, according to Guinness World Records, weighing in at 164.8 pounds and measuring 59.8 inches tall, was fried for 25 minutes at the Landmark Hotel in Amman, Jordan, in 2012.