Falafel has become an international street food staple, the golden fried chickpea balls as ubiquitous on the streets of Paris as in New York City. But the undisputed king of falafel is Israel, particularly the modern coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv. Here you can get a warm, thick, oversized pita stuffed with fresh-fried falafel and all the fixin's any time day or night.
Falafel originated in Egypt and spread throughout the Middle East before Israelis adopted it as their national food in the late 20th century [source: Kantor]. The classic Israeli falafel is a fritter of ground chickpea spiced with cumin, coriander, paprika, raw garlic, onion, and lots of fresh parsley [source: Haaretz]. The basic toppings are tahini sauce and an Israeli salad of chopped tomato and cucumber.
At Tel Aviv falafel stands, you can also add hummus, pickled veggies, roasted eggplant salad, feta cheese, French fries (just stuff 'em in) and a wide assortment of adventurous hot sauces. I remember my first Tel Aviv falafel, steps from the beach and only hours off the plane. Confronted by the overwhelming topping choices, I did the only reasonable thing: add a little of everything. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.