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May 18, 2011

The Falafel Food War Moves To The USA

The Middle-Eastern food industry has gotten highly competitive in recent years in the Middle East.

Israel and Lebanon having been trading the world record for the largest plate of chumus in recent years. Last year Israel took the record for the world's largest falafel ball. 3 years ago a team from Qatar baked the world's largest pita bread.

It is almost like the battlefield of the wars that have been too common has been adjusted to the battlefield of bragging rights.

take a bite out of that falafel ball!
Well, now, we have a foreign invader. Someone in California at the Santa Clarita Valley Jewish Food and Cultural Festival has claimed the world's largest falafel ball. He surpassed the previous record, held by an Israeli, by more than double, with the falafel ball weighing in at 52.8 pounds.

According to The Daily News Los Angeles:
What's as big as a beach ball, as heavy as three bowling balls, could feed a multitude and harkens back to biblical times?


Try the world's biggest falafel ball, rolled out for the record books Sunday at the Santa Clarita Valley Jewish Food and Cultural Festival.


"We have a winner!," said Dawn Walker, chef of Dawnsdinners.com, after weighing in the crusty colossus of 52.8 pounds. "We have the worlds' biggest. It's unbelievable."


The 12.5-inch-high falafel, a spicy Middle Eastern snack made from ground chickpeas and fava beans, was certified at 5 p.m. for submission to the Guinness Book of World Records.


"It measured 3-feet, 10-inches round.


Call it chick pea destiny. Organizers of the intimate Jewish festival in Santa Clarita had hoped to beat the official Guinness World Record falafel of 24 pounds.


Only the falafel, prepared by an Israeli chef in New York last May, looked more like a garbanzo hockey puck.


"Our goal was to have a beautiful falafel that was traditional," said festival volunteer Marlene Bernstein.


Meaning it must be round. Succulent. And mouth-watering enough to compel a hunt for a blanket-size pita.


More than 2,000 revelers who had flocked to the Jewish festival for Israeli dancing, a kugel cook-off and a run on Jewish food trucks had salivated for falafel greatness.


Robert Ingram had waited since noon hoping for a falafel crumb.


"It should have not too much crunch. The pita should be nice and toasty, not overdone. Tahini sauce. And it should all come together in one nice 50-pound falafel," said Ingram, 64, of Valencia, "constructed of pure enjoyment."


For Dawn Walker and her husband Dan, it meant borrowing a portable barbecue. Getting some falafel mix, courtesy of Authentic Foods and Tarazi. And experimenting with a custom stainless steel mold.


As the wind whipped through the festival grounds at College of the Canyons, two falafel lumps spent 8 hours in the oven vying for the record headline.


At 3:21 p.m., the first ball emerged during a blast of klezmer music, and weighed in at a frightening 22.9 - whoops, kilograms - or 50.4 pounds, a would-be record breaker.


The second emerged a couple pounds heftier at 3:30 p.m.


"Wow. I feel like David Caradine of `Kung Fu,' said Dan Walker, hoping not to drop the 145-degree winner.


Many marveled at its garbanzo girth. And the musty aroma of its souffle-like caramel-colored crust.


"It looks like a falafel. It smells like one. Of course, it'll taste like one," said Ric Royce, Dawn's dad, of Oxnard, who once supplied venerable dinner houses such as Trader Vic's. "It'll be the biggest - and the best - ever.


"In my wildest dreams, I never imagined her to be the falafel maven."


There was only one problem: because of health regulations, no one would be allowed a taste of the chick-pea chariot. Instead, they could only dream.


"I think it's fabulous," said Sandi Hershenson, chair of the festival hosted by Chabad of SCV, Temple Beth Ami and Congregation Beth Shalom. "We are celebrating the joys of Jewish culture."


"You're in the history books," added Leah Pollack, 39, of Valencia. "You know what's monumental? Jews in Santa Clarita. And we put on the world's biggest falafel ball."


Not everyone, however, was impressed with its culinary charm


"That's disgusting," said Sandi's daughter, Emma Hershenson, 11, of Stevenson Ranch. "I hate falafel. I mean I hate falafel. But I do think this is monumental event."


For the Walkers, the question was what to do with their monumental feat.


"We're going to frame it," said Dawn Walker, known for her luscious brisket and matzoh ball soup, as well as for catering to special diets. "Put it in a Lucite box. Shellac it. Put it in my living room.


"We'll be smelling falafel forever."
Now someone has to put him together with the guy from Qatar with the pita bread and the guy from lebanon with the plate of chumus, and we have a world record portion of falafel!

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