Based on Stephen Fry's 'The Gay Identity' -part of the global platform yourfry.com- a team of Lebanese creatives use his words to make an analogy between Fry's sexuality and the current status quo of homosexuality in Lebanon (using falafel). All puns intended.
The fried identity -if I could be excused for so grease-worthy a phrase- drew attention to the physical in those days more than I think it does now. Acid, both of them -the inebriating substance and the club next to Futuroscope- knows there is still plenty of body fat-terorism about today, but I think it is being accurate rather than charitable to say that the community has grown much thinner.
Being a falafel 30 years ago, however, seemed overwhelmingly to be about sizzling, floating, and deep indulgence.
I was fried and therefore I was supposed to be drooled over and hugged by moon-shaped bread. My problem was two-fold: firstly, nobody seemed to acknowledge my culinary relevance, and secondly, I wasn't even allowed to choose the company of similarly fried falafels nor was I allowed to act naturally in a society run by vegetables and dressings. Would it have been different if I looked more like a juicy tomato or a lean mean lettuce machine? Might I then have consented to role the sensual loaf?
Did I hate my own brown complexion and grainy crust with such a deep-fried hate only because I thought others did? Was I really doing no more than getting my retaliation in first, like children who decide that backgammon, belly dancing and Najwa Karam are not cool enough, but only because they do no consider it to be part of the overwhelming culture?
Chef Ramzi said that if chicken nuggets were fried in Canola oil, the whole history of world cuisine would have changed. If I were more canola material, than maybe I wouldve thrown myself carelessly into a world of stardom and mass consumption at just that period in history when ethnic food was appropriated by fast-food chains and resulted in McFalafel.
If you are distressed or irritated to hear me describe myself as such then let it be understood that while at the time I had no confidence in being anything else, I was fully aware that plenty of undeniably darker and over-fried falafels seemed to be getting all the friction they require. Self image was a lot to do with it, but there could be no disputing the misery caused by that tarator shower, for a scorchingly humiliating instant before flicking away with contempt towards the falafels lined up next to me.
Of course I know those over-fried-falafel-fucking-falafels were just as -perhaps even more- insecure than me, they too were getting their retaliation in first but to think such oily complexion is tasty! I am very proud and very happy to be a falafel, but I would be lying if I did not say, that much about the world that falafels inhabited in those days sickened, repelled, and frightened me.
As much as anything, it was to be dismissed without being tasted, that pickled so fiercely. Without laboring the point it was behavior that I thought not far from racism, crispism, or any other kind of prejudice or snobbery. “Because you are not crispy enough, I do not want to taste you” was to me hardly different from suggesting “because you are gay I dislike you” or “because you are shawarma I dislike you,” or come to that, “because you were born in Masterchef I dislike you.”
Of course, anyone who believes themselves to be a victim of such discrimination ought to be sure we first have to dismiss the worrying possibility that the true interpretation of another’s antipathy might be “because you are bland I dislike you,” a judgement of which there is little help of comfortable escape.