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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Guest Review- London Town

Mermaid Fish Bar :

189 Lower Clapton Road
London E5 8EG

Hackney Downs

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It was Wednesday evening. We had spent it pleasantly watching ‘noise’ in an old church in Hackney. As we tiredly trudged home, almost deaf after the intense wall of noise we had experienced, hunger rumbled in our bellies and I decided to pop into my local and treat my visiting Bristolians to some falafel and chips. I’d had falafel from here before but it was quite a while ago, when my brain had been swamped by the intense anxiety of the capitalist working world, and so my memory of how it was had been clouded in a haze of worry and lack of clarity. Time to try once more.

The falafel came with a range of salad and sauces. I went for all salad and just the chilli sauce (the guy seemed highly dismayed that I wouldn’t take the garlic sauce – clearly a good choice for the non-vegans out there?) The falafel themselves were cooked to perfection, crispy on the outside and soft and flavoursome inside, and were wrapped up in a thin flatbread with humous, chilli sauce and all the salads.

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Positives : Definitely the tastiest falafel wrap I’ve had in a while, served to me by a smiley and jovial guy who seemed to be constantly winking and laughing.
Negatives – It was £5. Oh and the extremely tasty chilli sauce sadly caused my wrap to leak all over me, despite the paper wrapping. Maybe I wasn’t eating it fast enough.

Portions of chips were huge (a small was £1.50) and got the thumbs up from my Bristolian chums.
Innibriation rating: 0 (due to being on antibiotics)
All in all a shining, but slightly highly priced, 4/5

*Many Thanks to our guest blogger ‘Quaid’ for this submission. If any other falafel lovers out there want to write in, contact me and I’ll post it up. There is only so much falafel I can physically eat, TBH.

F*****l the police

Falafel- I spied it straight away as I was lead into the Jungle. The sign that lifted me out of the temporary depression from the night before, which had lead me to several different take-aways only to end up with chips, again. Where was the falafel? Luckily, the Jungle had the answer.

I made a mental note to return to the restaurant as soon as possible and get me one of those. I’d save it for a rainy day.

Me and my esteemed colleague were in Calais for a couple of weeks to do some voluntary work in the refugee camp, which currently holds 9000 people and rising. And to have a nice li’l holiday of course, practise the ol’ French and get some rays. And naturally, to give the opportunity to do a French falafel review, which has left a gaping hole in our reviewing history.

We were updated on recent events in Calais, including several deaths in recent weeks, raids on shops on restaurants and tear gas attacks. The police came daily to arrest shop keepers and restaurant owners, to steal their food and money and to smash their stuff up. They even trashed the children’s restaurant, where free food is distributed for children while they do activities and have lessons. They literally stole food from hungry children.

But for the first few days, we saw none of this. Until the 3rd day, when the police started tear gassing us at night, when all the charities had locked up for the night and gone home. After this, started the daily raids. Sometimes they came twice. There was a court case coming up, where it would decide whether the police had permission to tear down the shops and restaurants or not. No one was hopeful. Plans were made.

A rainy day came. Several actually, it rained all day. Our shelter leaked. It was time to get a falafel. I’d had a few plates of Afghan chickpeas and beans, which had been amazing, so I had high hopes for the falafel.

As usual, I was bitterly disappointed. The restaurant no longer existed! Gone was the sign advertising falafel. Instead, a bare walled empty restaurant stared back at me. Had I IMAGINED IT? A quick chat with my colleague confirmed it had actually existed, until just days before.

Foiled again. Calais would let me down once more. Falafel the police! A friend did invite us over to his lovely star themed abode and he made us delicious hummus, which did something to lessen the pain. And, in a surprising turn of events, the police LOST the court case, and they are not going to demolish them! But that doesn’t mean they won’t be forced into being used as something else and still have their businesses ruined. We shall see. Still, a victory to beat the police in ANYTHING is good in France, in Calais, in the Jungle. But, they destroyed my chance of A FALAFEL IN FRANCE, for which I WILL NEVER FORGIVE THEM. ACAB for ever. Signed, A furious falafel- hunter in France.