Yesterday at MIT one of our customers, Nittin, was giving us a hard time about the chickpea fritter. “Why don’t you just call it falafel,” he was saying. “It’s just like the falafel I’ve had in the Middle East.” It’s not the first time we’ve gotten this comment. I think Nittin felt like calling it a chickpea fritter made it seem gourmet, or like we were trying to rename something that already exists.
I was telling him (Ayr and Rolando, let me know if I have this right) the reason we don’t call it falafel is pretty simple. We don’t want to alienate anyone with our food, and a word like falafel might make someone walk away at first glance. We don’t want the only people who eat our food to be those who know what falafel is. Calling it a chickpea fritter almost forces a discussion between you and the person taking your order.
If you ask, we’ll tell you the chickpea fritter has hummus, cucumber and tomato salad, falafel (for those who don’t know, it’s our fried chickpea batter with cilantro, parsley, and toasted spices), pickled vegetables, and tahini on top.