Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fresh Falafel

If you’re anything like me, you will have cooked many meals, both for yourself and your family. I thought I was doing an ok job of it, until M – my lovely wife – bought me a “cooking experience” at a place in Fulham. Hmmm …. perhaps my own cooking wasn’t all that great then? Anyway, it was fun and I enjoyed spending time with a Michelin starred chef, and making several dishes to take home. It was he, the French chef, that casually mentioned the fresh fish shop on North End road, which sits between Fulham Broadway and Earls Court. On Saturdays, one end of the road is a market, specialising in fruit and veg’, but as much of a bargain some of it seems (a whole tray of Braeburn apples for £2.50), much of it doesn’t last much past Sunday evening, ending up in the compost bin.

The fish shop, however, turned out to be something pretty special. I bought several items for a paella I was cooking for my Dad’s birthday, as well as two fairly healthy sized crabs for my children to ‘try’.

It was while visiting the market for the aforementioned fish, that my generously proportioned nose caught a whiff of something rather delicious. Following my nose, so to speak, I happened upon a tiny falafel stall, cunningly whittled out of the inside of a metal shed and painted red. As I approached, I inwardly groaned at the distinct lack of a queue - not a good sign for any street food vendor. Regardless, I stepped up to the 'stall', and briefly chatted with the two gentlemen that were stood behind the business bit of the stall.

While agonising over whether to order a medium or a large falafel wrap (it was always going to be large - the agonising was just for effect), Ali and Mahmoud introduced themselves, and what a likeable couple of guys they turned out to be. Having gotten talking, they explained that they are Palestinian by birth and live in the West Bank; well, I nearly swooned. Could it be true? A street food stall, selling one of my favourite 'snacks' (when they're made well, naturellement), who just happen to be from an area of the world that is one of my favourite topics?

Anyhoo, I ordered, they made – by the way, the falafel mix is already made up, but they scoop up the required amount and drop ‘em in the oil “fresh”, if you know what I mean – and I stood and ate, as did wife and child 1 (child 2 being averse to anything that’s for sale in the same vicinity as freshly chopped tomatoes).

Obviously, being freshly cooked, they were lovely and warm, the salad was delicious and looked as if it had also been recently prepared. I’m a big fan of khobbez bread as it is, and again, this was slightly warmed before the falafels were squished down into it. A pre-requisite squirt of tahini sauce, a brief “no thanks” to the offer of chilli sauce, and the wrapping could begin.

Wife, child 1 and myself agreed that they were delicious; the falafels perfectly cooked, the lettuce crunchy, the tomatoes juicy, the pickles sharp, just wonderful. And all of this service with a bit of friendly banter from the gentlemen behind the jump.

I admit I’m still getting used to asking the world to wait while I take photographs of my food to share with you, so these aren’t the most adventurous pics, granted. But you get the idea right? Small shack in an ordinary street market, selling tasty food that they’re proud of – a little bit of their heritage? – and selling it with a smile.

To top off this wonderful new discovery, who should happen along just as I was taking a picture? Well, see for yourself, my old friend Roger Moore. He was researching his new role as a Chelsea pensioner and was wearing some of his wardrobe from the set, just up the road. There he is, look, in the red cardigan. I think he’s perfected the walk already.

Marvellous actor, we’ve been chums for donkeys years!

North End Road
(Saturday market)

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