Learning to Make Falafel

On Tuesday night we got together to learn how to make falafel. Our Instructor, Khalid, moved to Athens from Syria about 14 years ago. He and his family helped us (or perhaps corrected us) in our attempts to make traditional Syrian falafel.

Iyad and Khalid perfecting the falafel rolling technique

Thanks to a small cash donation from J. Allison, we were able to purchase some new equipment for the event. We purchased some grinders to make the falafel mix in the more authentic way, without using electricity (i.e. no food processors were used). We also purchased a falafel tool!

One of the benefits of working in a machine-free environment is reducing dependence on energy (by using a hand grinder) and also utilizing the manpower of the group that gathered as we all took turns grinding down kilos of chickpeas in order to make the mix. Also, by using tools together, we gain knowledge that is only transferred by using our hands together, it’s a way of connecting across cultures via tool-use, the most ancient form of cultural transmission.  It’s also therapeutic!

Grinding the chickpeas the “old fashioned” way.

Our collection of tools is growing and soon we will need a permanent space to keep everything! This will be our FoodLab and people can come and use the equipment to cook with just like in a HackSpace, or a tool library for chefs. So far we have some catering equipment and also some kitchen tools. Eventually we would like to try 3D printing our tools so we can incorporate more technology into the Food Lab.

Stirring the mix to get the right consistency… Khalid, where are you?

Using (mostly) local ingredients, we “crowdsourced” the shopping list and every attendee brought part of the recipe. It’s a good way to memorize the ingredients! It also makes the workshop much more affordable for everyone. People took time to find the proper ingredients in a way that no one person could do on their own. For example: Iyad went to a Lebanese shop in Athens to get special Tahini, and another person get organic garlic from Aegina; no one person could have shopped for these items.

Good food takes time; we believe in the importance of “slow food”! So,  after all the preparation it was time to see how a professional like Iyad, makes the falafel sandwich as the hungry crowd gathers. Cooking is about sharing food and, thus, is a social activity. Our approach is to learn from each other, cook together and share food with others too.

Taming the crowd of falafel seekers

A feast like this is simple and fun when you do it collaboratively and with so many different origins amongst our members, we never run out of new recipes to learn.

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Taking turns at the operating table