I have an insatiable and undeniable love with almost all forms of street food. I’m not talking about the fancy New York City food trucks either. No, I am talking about the food you see being sold from small storefronts or carts all throughout the world. Crepes in Paris, bagged fruit in Bangkok, you name it and I love it. So of course when I was visiting Israel a few weeks ago, I had to experiment with their curbside culinary offerings.
One of my favorite meals was in Tel Aviv when I decided to see if all of the fuss about falafels lived up to the hype. A falafel is a pretty simple creation – ground chickpeas with a variety of spices and other ingredients added to taste. This concoction is then formed into a ball and deep fried.
This of course conforms with travel rule #569, anything fried is good. (please note that I exempted fried grasshoppers from this rule while in Mexico)
I wasn’t exactly sure of the ordering etiquette, so I winged it as they asked me a variety of questions. I opted for the falafel pita, which sounded nice and compact, rather than the baguette or mysterious sounding Iraqi Pita. The falafel balls were fried to order and I was thrilled to see that the pita was topped with equally fresh French fries and hummus. I opted out, but lettuce and/or a Moroccan salad was also available to add to the incredibly messy meal. A veritable portable Middle Eastern buffet, the falafel pita is truly a culinary masterpiece.
I awkwardly took the assemblage of fried goodness and hummus, grabbed a Diet Coke in a glass bottle (love it) and sat down to enjoy some great people watching at the Carmel Market.
Other than cost and pure deliciosity (word? New Loperism?), I think I love street food most for its ability to create instant connections. First, you’re eating what most people enjoy on a daily bases and as you walk along with your selection it creates a common bond and helps, in small part, to eradicate that OTHER sign hanging around your neck. Street food is also engaging by its nature. You aren’t in s stuffy restaurant, removed from the rest of the world. You’re there at a café or park bench actively participating in the city, rather than watching it from the outside like a finely orchestrated zoo enclosure.
This may be a little too much travel philosophy for a post about falafel, but it’s my site and I loved my great falafel experiment.