Falafel in the time of corona virus

By anonymous. N. B this was written BEFORE the outbreak in Spain and subsequent lock down in all European countries. Stay tuned for quarantine falafel updates next week.

After yet another sodden, freezing and windy week in London (storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge had visited) combined with toilet-paper hoarding Coronavirus mass panic, I boarded an easyJet flight for a weekend in Southern Spain. Murcia had, as yet, no Covid 19 cases. If sunshine really is going to be the solution to this horror, I chose my escape well as I was in a T shirt and sunglasses by the first afternoon. We stayed in the much settled, much conquered and much traded with, Cartegena. It has a beautiful safe deep harbour – as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Punics, Romans, Visigoths Caliphate Arabs, and now the Spanish Navy and various giant Mediterranean cruise ships can attest.


It’s also rammed, in a ramshackle way, with amazing antiquities including one of the most impressive Roman amphitheatres in Europe and collections of salvaged marvels in Spain’s underwater archaeology museum, located on the harbour. So while my cultural soul was being nourished, the usual issue of actual nourishment, never easy when travelling as a plant-based person in Spain, was less addressed.

IMG-20200308-WA0027As a Vegetarian you can eat tortilla till the chickens come home. Flexitarian diets and reduced meat consumption areon the rise in Spain, as elsewhere. I found a Vegetarian restaurant in a central side street but it was literally never open any time I was hungry. So, after a couple of meals of plain salad and olives, I was happy to find two falalafel-serving establishments in town. I chose King Kebab as it had pretty lights and friendly staff. The other one was very fast foody. Despite selling falafel neither places sold, or even claimed to have ever heard of – hummus. Very odd. I could buy it in the local
supermarket but it was a mystery to both falafel-selling shops. So I bought the falafel wrap – without sauce as the only option was yoghurt sauce, and with salad.

IMG-20200308-WA0025Now normally I’d have been very very grateful for that wrap — but there’s nothing like a global pandemic to turn you into a mad weirdo, cringing away from fellow humans on the plane and opening doors with tissues. And the Kebab King, sadly, made the whole wrap and then rolled it up – with his hands. Which had just been serving people and making a pizza.
So.. I took it back to my hotel, ate the contents with extra tomatoes and hummus which I picked up at the 24/7 local Carrefour, but just couldn’t bring myself to eat the man-handled bread. Hard to review the establishment without hummus or bread but at €3.50 it would have been good value had I been less squeamish. The falafel was fine – 3 pieces and very tasty. Salad was fine – especially the tomato which, as is usual in Spain, was very tomatoey. As I was eating I got two alerts: one WhatsApp showing supermarket shelves emptied by Coronavirus hoarders in north London, another, a twitter alert saying the first case had been declared here in Murcia province. I’ve got one more day with 24 degrees forecast so Ill just count my blessings I found falafel at all, and therefore give the Kebab King a rating of 4.
27 Calle Santa Florentine’s Cartegena Spain


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