AS a young student at the multinational Aramco school in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Fadi Jaber, a son of Palestinian refugees, always preferred his American classmatesâ€™ cupcakes, brownies and chocolate chip cookies to his motherâ€™s pastries: knafah, qatayef and baklawah.
But when he tasted a vanilla-frosted vanilla cupcake from the Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village in 2004, it changed his life…And after an internship at Billyâ€™s Bakery in Chelsea, he was ready for his next move: In July 2007, in Amman, Jordan, he opened Sugar Daddyâ€™s, the shop that brought the cupcake craze to the Middle East.
Finally! Cupcakes have come from the West to civilize those poor Arabs who have been stuck suffering through plates of baklawah for centuries.
And–gasp!–they’re even in Israel!
Cupcakes have also bridged the most contentious divide of the Middle East. In the last year, three online cupcake stores opened in Israel, all in Tel Aviv.
Danielle Levy, who emigrated from England, founded I Love Cupcakes (ilovecupcakes.co.il) with her South African business partner, Hayley Rabie.
â€œWe had both enjoyed cupcakes throughout our lives,â€ she wrote in an e-mail message. â€œIn the past few years we have seen tasted and enjoyed them more and more with the rise of their fashion â€” in our own lives, film, fashion and TV.â€
Why is this surprising? Cupcakes are not a contentious issue. Call me when bagels make it big in Beirut.