Who is the falafel? I ruminate for several minutes thinking of the historical falafels of my life. There was that great one in Amsterdam with the implausible salad bar but was that me or the falafel? The city, booze or hummus? There were those homemade falafels we had when we watched Jurassic Park but I feel certain for sure that success here came from circumstantial advantage. But tonight, the moon is full and I have just finished my first falafel since moving to Bristol.
Thinking back now it was an uncomfortable experience. Upon entering the stark and silver building I peruse the menu asking myself questions like ‘Where is the falafel ?’ ‘Do they even do falafel here?’ and again the critical ‘Who is the falafel’? From behind a voice shouts for my attention. We talk the talk and it’s decided, a falafel shall be mine. He shouts it across the room but no, he is not the maker of falafel. He is the money man and the chick peas belong to those across the way. I turn, chasing the information, so keen to meet my maker. I look and all around me, like children in the corner, are the backs of silent men. Motionless in their punishment. I check them out one by one but no, I can’t decipher.
‘Who is making my falafel’?
I am hopelessly lost.
A suited man enters, he does not speak or peruse. He leans casually and looks around and I know in my heart that he is not making my falafel either. Other customers enter and order, always in brevity and silence. Time aches away and still I am clueless. I play the waiting game a while longer until yes, the hero I’ve been waiting for emerges. A clean shaven man awkwardly spoons hummus to the pita.
Imagine an ordinary plastic box, translucent with rounded soft edges. Now imagine a little ball of hummus in it. Now imagine a man who gently and without joy rolls this hummus back and forth many times. He trundles his sad spoon along clawing and poking like he’s afraid. No confidence in his work here and I have never seen such tentative hummus work. He tears the bread a little and paws about a while longer silently gnawing and making cruel shapes with his mouth. He is done.
Straight out of nowhere a second man loudly rattles his friar and dumps four pieces of falafel on the pita. My falafel is sent down the line to a third man who asks me about salad. He is the salad guy. Negotiations commence and salad and chilli sauce are applied then finally to the wrapping man. My view is obscured by the counter top but his arms are a frenzy. I watch in awe as limbs wildly move to the sound of paper on paper. After all this he presents it to me, my falafel. It is much longer and thinner than I could believe. It looked so wide and full before, how did it become like this? So long and tightly packed. I leave in trepidation, holding my greasy sword. I think only about the future and what there is to come.
Before I leave I spy a counter full of beers. “Beers?” I think, I could certainly go for one of those. For a split second I head toward them before I change my mind. “Not here Michael, never from here again”. I go to another shop, appreciative of the suggestion of a beer but unprepared to spend more money in the falafel of asylum.
It’s ten minutes later, the beer has been bought, the lighting is just right and I begin to open my falafel.
By the time I finish opening my falafel I am crushed. The pita/wrap/shitty carbohydrate sheath is utterly inadequate to shield my falafel. I am left with a greasy thin pile of falafel ingredients. Laid out in a row like minutes after the firing squad have gone. Oh the sad and greasy tumbles we fall through in life. I’m thinking now, how do I eat this thing? This chick pea fucking train wreck… I want it in my mouth.
I rewrap it up in paper and fucking bite. I am sure some paper makes it’s way into the mix but by now it’s too late. The misery has spread, I am just happy to be alive. Just glad that there is anything here for me at all. I think back to the men of solitude who made this for me. I think of their experience. Did they know it would be like this for me? Did they care? Do I really care about them. I have had far better interactions with those in the service industry before, from both sides of the counter but really…what is the difference between lovelessness and apathy? Between duty and desire? The falafel and the men who made it? It’s a confusing world but I’ll tell you what… that greasy pile of road kill humus wasn’t half bad once I got stuck in. It filled a hole and those beers were great. I think we can agree though, that we can all try a lot harder.
Service. 0 stars