“Don’t ever think about eating a falafel. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten in my life.”
So said my brother when we were talking about European food over the Holidays. See, when he went to Italy for a liturgical course a year or so ago, he had the misfortune of ordering falafel at a local joint and ended up with stodgy, badly-seasoned, gritty, and cold lumps of tasteless provender. And, no: the side of fries didn’t help at all!
This particular testimony scared me off from trying falafel until about a couple weeks ago – the nerve-wracking period between Christmas and the New Year – when I found my self craving for something substantial that didn’t involve animal protein. And I certainly wasn’t in the mood for a salad.
As a result, I hightailed over to Stavros’s at the Festival Mall for a gyro - specifically, a falafel gyro.
If you’re seriously into the whole shawarma / burrito / sandwich-in-wrap form deal, this is the vegetarian option you should consider.
There are two falafel patties in each gyro and they come bundled with some fresh iceberg lettuce and a couple slices of fresh tomato in some deliciously tender-textured flatbread with an appealing yeasty-wheaty flavor. The falafels are served hot and this resulted in patties that were crunchy on the outside while moreishly creamy with the right hint of stodginess within. The nutty flavor of the mashed chickpeas was amped up by the addition of cumin, ginger, black pepper, and a host of other Middle Eastern / Mediterranean spices I couldn’t identify.
The falafel gyro comes with a side of hot and crisp French fries, a dish of peppery harissa-style sauce, and another of cool, cucumber tzatziki. It was definitely a tasty, satisfying vegetarian meal.