Sometimes those of us who don't eat fast food, still need a quick, inexpensive bite to eat. Not that falafel is always quick. In fact, at one of my favorite falafel nooks, Moustache, in the West Village, it is actually billed as 'Slow Food' and they aren't kidding. They have warm, puffy pitas, fresh from the oven, along with a host of salads and other inspired Middle-Eastern fare. When I am looking for an extended falafel experience, we go there. When I am seeking something less time-consuming, I go to either Rainbow Falafel (for take-out) on 17th Street or Chickpea, a newer establishment in the East Village with excellent falafel sandwiches, along with smart creations for the indecisive amongst us, including the schawafel (schwarma and falafel) and the chickplant (hummus, eggplant and egg) sandwiches. They too provide homemade pitas (not as puffy as those at Moustache but still warm and tasty).
It was there I ended up with Izzy yesterday, after a trip into NYC to scoop up some winter sale clothes for next season . We had been there once before, en route to get my haircut and the food served as entertainment for Izzy while I got snipped. This time, we ate at the counter, even though they do have a cozy spot in the back. I had the chickplant and Izzy had the schawafel "with pickles please". He noted that the pickles were not as tasty as the pickles from Europa in JC..(see Pondering pickles in a future post). We also discussed the differences in falafel colors, theirs are bright green in the interior whereas others are yellower. What a satisfying, healthful lunch, as fast as any food can possibly be without being precooked. And as it turned out,one sandwich would have been sufficient for the two of us, which would have made it the true bargain lunch.
I recall that the first time Izzy ever tried falafel was on a hot summer day in Union Square Park. He must have been around 14 or 15 months old. We had gone to the Greenmarket and it was lunchtime so I picked up a falafel sandwich from Rainbow. We took it to the park and spread out on the grass. I may have packed some snacks for him but I also offered him some tastes of the falafel which he was happy to have. I just handed him small bits of the sandwich. On subsequent occasions he ate more and more. Eventually he started to ask for it, though he went through a brief phase for a few months where he would only eat the pita and tomatoes..Now, after sampling at least three falafel joints (I forgot to mention Ibby's), he is becoming a true falafel aficionado.