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Feast Alert: Food Patriots Launch “Operation Falafel”


Globalization may have made the world one small village, but in the midst of its trendy hustles, one group of UAE gourmands is determined to return traditional Arabic food to its pride of place.

“In this hi-tech globalized world we live in, Arabic street food lost its roots, taste and fans,” their mission statement begins. “Falafel became fancy, shawerma was stuffed in baguettes, and hummus turned pink.” Against these losses, “Operation Falafel” is making a hilarious and tasty stand for the enduring goodness of grandma’s recipes—and bringing back “the original cheap and delicious Arab street food” for everyone in the process.

To celebrate their delicious progress, this Sunday these gourmet operatives are throwing a cooking party, with celebrity chefs taking center stage. Foodies, bloggers, and a whole range of media personalities will be showing off their skills in the kitchen, competing to decorate the best hummus plate and roll the fastest sandwich, among other feats. All events will be shared on social media, and the food distributed through AdoptaCamp in Al-Quoz.

Ultimately the operation aims to satisfy more than people’s tastes: above all, the organizers want “to put people in the heart of the cooking process, in a fun way,” explains brand director Saleh al-Saleh. His hope is to show participants that “by dressing Arabic food in a ‘modern outfit’, it can be ‘cool’ as well, not outdated as most people think.” But, he warns, the competition will be fierce, so all those hankering to take part should come prepared to make a tasty mess.

For more information – Operation Falafel on Facebook

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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