I absolutely love Falafels.
My very first experience of having one was in the true touristy style at one of those little, mediterranean cafes lining the narrow cobblestoned paths around Grand Place. A little history on Grand Place. It’s a courtyard boxed in by the huge majestic Town Hall that provides the backdrop for showcasing the Sonne et Lumiere show every summer evening. Brussels is the city.
Spectacular? ..and that’s just a regular evening with a lit up Broodhuis. Beer and wine flow in copius quantities and the mood is always cheery. Off these buildings, adjacent little spiked narrow paths lead away, not unlike he rays of the sun. One leads to the famous Manneken Pis Boy. I know, I didn’t have to say it, but really, how could anyone talk about Brussels and not mention the pis boy!
So in any case, what’s interesting is that Brussels is truly at the heart of Europe, not just geographically located [and being the capital of EU and all that] but more so of the liberal, relaxed [next to Swiss] and accommodative culture and lifestyle they allow. Each Rue (street) fanning out was filled, literally filled with teeny cafes, red geraniums from rectangular flower beds, and little chairs and tables on which sat the average built diner. Concept of space is a non-issue. It’s only in the US do I find this whole 3 feet of personal space that we strictly adhere to, no matter where we are. So yes, these little cafes were so close and patrons sat almost on each other’s laps, inhaling secondary smoke, and if necessary reaching out and grabbing a piece of bread from the next table with just a slight stretching of the elbow. Not that they do it, but the temptation is irresistable.
Each road served a cuisine. Mediterranean, French, Italian, Belgian, and so on.
That is where I partook of the only veggie option that the expressive little man offered me. He clucked his tongue, and wrinkled his nose, lifted his eyes onto the dark ceiling and with a waving of his hand, swished a picture of the flat round patties at me from the very soiled dog-eared menu card. I used my French on him and said “Merci monsieur, c’est perfect! Il n’y a pas de viande ou le poulet ou aucune animaux dans cette petite balle no?” To which he smiled indulgently at this complete goof ball chopping his language into fine bits that even his butcher couldn’t make of his red meat, while I thought in my head, o why doesn’t he have an egg shaped bald head, he’d have been my hero, Poirot!
..and that was almost my favorite thing to eat every alternate weekend, and decided next to the Gaufres, and the Haagen Daazs ice cream parlor on Avenue Louise, falafels were indeed God’s blessing to my parched tongue! Impressionable 21 year olds and their carbon-laced cooking I tell ya!
..and then I moved.
..and then 14 years later, I discovered these at Costco’s freezer.
…and then, I celebrate.
A primer for taste buds: Pick one and Enjoy!
- Eat plain with Hot-Sweet maggie ketchup.
- Pretend they are veggie cutlet, and continue on.
- Roll inside of tortilla, pita, roti, find some veggies lying around your refrigerator waiting to be rescued, dice, add and munch.
- Chop into tiny bits and add to any dry curry.
- Add to majjiga pulusu, mor kozhambu, or kadi, instead of pakoras.
- Stuff kids mouths. Not spicy, and they get some protein to boot.
- Perfect appetizer, serve with spicy tom chutney, coriander chutney, or plain ketchup. Added benefit, chickpeas fills folks up.
- Use instead of ragda patties.
- Perfect between buns as a sandwich to place in lunch boxes.
- ..and the most perfect one of all – use as koftas. I like the kofta idea and curries, but making a kofta and then the gravy just seemed a lot of work, which means that the frequency of preparation declines at a rapid rate. This way, all you have to do is make your gravy, while they roast in the toaster oven, and voila, kofta curry, and no one needs to know that they are healthy for you!