Greek Falafels (Athens Part 2).

Ratemyfalafel.com took a trip to Athens in March to sample the growing number of falafel eateries in the capital city. Well, we went there to volunteer for ECHO refugee library, who provide a library service to migrants/refugees in and around Athens, but the real reason was of course to get falafel. It would be ludicrous to pretend otherwise. It’s taken a very long time to get round to writing about this trip – not because I was traumatised or anything, but because I watched all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones over the long winter…

During my brief 12 day stay, I managed to squeeze in 4 falafels. I would have had more but every time I actually wanted one (like when drunk) they were all shut. 2 of the falafels were bought reluctantly from a trendy hipster-ish place in eXarchia, in which the staff were surly. It was like being home in Bristol – graffiti everywhere, rude staff, over priced – a must have for any Brits/Bristolians feeling homesick. The only difference was that in Athens there are terrifying army and police everywhere, hanging around with massive guns (weapons, not muscles. Though in comparison to UK cops, they are better equipped in that area too).

The falafel on both occasions was sub par.  The first time round I forgot to ask for it to be vegan (I just assumed, I’m that kind of person) so it came with a generous dollop of yoghurt-y sauce (they love yoghurt over there, or so I hear). The second time I asked for it without, and she grimaced at me with raised eyebrows in a ‘fuck you’ kind of snarl. It also could have been ‘cos I was talking English, having not learnt any Greek at all. Apart from thank you, which I think I pronounced badly. Either way, she was unimpressed by me in general. As I was with the falafel. It was dry and hummus free, with a disappointing salad.

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Review-

Bread – 4/5 – nothing to complain about here, but not amazing

Falafel – 3/5 – dry

Salad – 2/5 – bland

Intoxication – 3/5

Service – 2/5

The next falafel was made for me by a man living in one of the refugee camps. I’d been volunteering for the library for a week, going to various social centres and camps to bring books and help catalogue the stock, and by the time it got to Friday I was ready for a decent falafel. I believe the falafel- cook was Syrian but I also could be wrong about that. Any way, it was brilliant. Costing just one euro, made in his kitchen in his caravan, he presented it to us with no fuss (and actually no words, neither of us spoke the others language). We communicated by a shared loved of fried chickpeas alone.

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I recorded an interview about this particular falafel, made whilst trying not to get falafel all over the books, and trying to entertain very enthusiastic kids. Unfortunately I lost it. It was good.

A final falafel was bought in a very cheap ‘street food’ type place called ‘street souvlaki’ in the centre near all the touristy bits. The price was right at 1.80, it was just big enough (I could have eaten more), but it did have a weird taste to it. A bit like a mixture between an onion baji and a falafel. Which is fine, as I am a bit bored of falafel these days. But still, it wasn’t really what I would call a falafel. And as always, no hummus. In fact, it was very difficult to find ANY hummus in Athens at all. Shocking.

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International Falafels

Well its been a busy and jet setting few months here at Falafel Central. From Belgium to Sweden, Copenhagen to Ireland and Ibiza thrown in, we really are dedicated to giving YOU, THE READER, a full spectrum of Falafel.

Taking advantage of Ryan Airs obscenely cheap flights from Bristol to Dublin, we flew into the freezing cold bitterly raining isle at stupid o-clock in the morning. Bleary eyed through lack of sleep, and feeling a deep sense of shame from having sunk so low as to fly to a country literally next door, for a grand total of 4 days,  we emerged into the street of Dublin. Despite the weather, I’ll say this for Ireland- the music is incredible. Luckily we had some friends to show us where the good folk sessions were, and we were blown away by the musicians we saw. One of them was a 13 year old cello-ist who made me wonder what I was doing with my life. Every other person could pick up a fiddle and play a jaunty tune. I thought longingly of my once played violin gathering dust in my cupboard, the result of one of my more recent whims.

We also went for a lovely walk in the hills just outside of Dublin, and once tired and wet, we began the search for a falafel establishment. We didn’t have long to wait.

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The hummus came on the side- an interesting twist and the bread was cooked well. The salad was interesting- with a subtle sweet and nutty taste and a little of the side too. However, the falafel was unimpressive due to the soft texture and I was not left sufficiently full after paying 7 euros 50 for the wrap. It was in one of those very nice but very vegan/organic/yoga/holier than thou sorts of places which don’t really compare to a good takeaway/kebab shop.

Our next trip was to Ibiza, just a few days later. Yes, we really are spoilt.

This was more like it. ‘The West End’ was booming out terrible dance music and we were being urged into various brightly lit nightmarish bars full of complete morons and the falafel shop was already full of sunburnt Brits (ourselves included, we were really quite sunburnt by the 2nd day.)

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It was exactly the kind of place we wanted and I remember thinking as we waited in the smelly room for our order that ‘this is the type of place that will make me ill’. I wasn’t wrong, I felt mildly sick all day the following day. I managed to remember in time to tell him to leave off with the ‘white sauce’ they insist on drowning your falafel in when in Spain, opting instead for the chili sauce. It tasted weird. I felt very grate the following day, that we had only shared one between us. I don’t think I need to bother saying, but it was a very bad falafel indeed.

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Ibiza was quite disturbing, not least when an old friend of a friend tried to embroil us in some sort of complicated scam involving £1000 each and opening up a beach bar before escaping to Brazil. However, the Island itself is very beautiful.

Stay tuned for  Tales of Sweden, Copenhagen and Belgium.

And we have a very special announcement to make.We at RateMyFalafel.com are going to be running a Half Marathon to raise money for Refugees in Calais and Morocco. After we have done this, we are going to eat a very large falafel.

You can sponser us here : https://gogetfunding.com/the-falafel-athon/