which country cooks falafel best?

Freshly cooked falafel is among my most favorite of lunch foods…

It’s most likely that falafel did start in Egypt – one theory being that Coptic Christians created it about 1,000 years ago, another being that it goes back to the time of the pharaohs. In any case, the dish migrated to the Levant, to be consumed by Lebanese, Palestinians and Israelis – and all those countries have at some point claimed falafel as their national dish.

Arguments about origins aside, most people just want to eat the best falafel that can be found. Anissa Helou, the Middle East food expert and writer, tells me what to look out for. “They have to be very crisp on the outside, with a nice crust that is not too dark,” she says. “And – this is the art of proper frying – they should be crumbly and fluffy, without being too wet on the inside.” When it comes to consistency as well as flavour, the ingredients are key: Helou suggests a good mix would be chickpeas and fava beans, along with fresh coriander, leeks, garlic and spices, and a bit of bicarbonate of soda added at the end, so that the falafel balls puff up when fried. What is essential, though, is that they are served on the spot. As Young says: “It’s better to have people wait for the falafel, than to have the falafel wait for people.” Bear that in mind whenever you’re remotely tempted by some pre-packaged, refrigerated fried bean balls masquerading as this champion Middle Eastern food.

(click here to continue reading The falafel battle: which country cooks it best? | Life and style | The Guardian.)

garbanzo bean flour

i emailed my mom, she reports

The very best I have ever had were in Toronto on Yonge St. The owners were Lebanese and they only used chick peas that they soaked and ground. Lots of spices, freshly fried for each ordered sandwich. And the sauce had cucumber, sesame paste, yogurt, lots of garlic and parsley. Also the pita were fresh every day. MMMMMMMMM.

The pavement was alive with the sound of music
The pavement was alive with the sound of music, Amsterdam train station.

I remember eating falafel in some public square in Amsterdam on my Italian sojourn in 1993-94. We were nearing the end of our trip, and our funds were getting low, for I think 5 guilders you’d get three falafel balls, pita, and all the cucumber, tomato, lettuce, tahini, humus, hot peppers, pickles, beets and yogurt sauce you could fit. Lebanese probably, but not sure, fried up as you waited. Delicious. I think we ate it 4 or 5 times for lunch.

And a recipe for making your own:

Moustafa Elrefaey’s Egyptian broad bean falafel (Serves 4)

500g dried broad beans, soaked 40g Spanish onions 12g garlic 35g parsley 35g fresh coriander 7g salt 2g ground cumin

Thoroughly wash the beans in a bowl under running water then cover and soak them (unrefrigerated) for at least 8 hours.

Wash and drain the beans well.

In a food processor, puree the vegetables and herbs for 2 mins then add the soaked beans and keep it running for 10 mins. Add the salt and cumin until the mix is slightly foamy.

Heat the oil to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and, if you have one, use an ice-cream scoop to form a ball from the puree. Press it between your fingers into a patty and fry it for 2 mins on each side.

(click here to continue reading The falafel battle: which country cooks it best? | Life and style | The Guardian.)

Mitt’s Major Meltdown

A Moment of Peace
A Moment of Peace

Team Romney is more interested in scoring political points than reverence for the dead, or even getting the facts correct. Not to worry, Romney’s family will probably baptize Ambassador Christopher Stevens into the Mormon faith posthumously.

A damning fact check from AP: The gunfire at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had barely ceased when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seriously mischaracterized what had happened in a statement accusing President Barack Obama of “disgraceful” handling of violence there and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

“The Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” Romney said in a statement first emailed to reporters at 10:09 p.m. Eastern time, under the condition it not be published until midnight.

In fact, neither a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier in the day nor a later statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered sympathy for attackers. The statement from the Cairo Embassy had condemned anti-Muslim religious incitement before the embassy walls were breached. In her statement, issued minutes before Romney’s, Clinton had offered the administration’s first response to the violence in Libya, explicitly condemning the attack there and confirming the death of a State Department official.

(click here to continue reading US Politics | AMERICAblog News: AP: Romney lied, as advisers saw Libya/Egypt violence as “opportunity”.)

Pumpkin Head
Pumpkin Head

Gail Collins is worried about Mitt – he does seem a bit unstable. He might be a borderline General Jack D. Ripper type.

Virtually nobody seemed to think this was all that great a plan. The Romney campaign, according to CNN, helpfully passed out suggestions for supporters who might want to defend Mitt. (When asked whether he was too quick on the attack, loyalists were supposed to say: “No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests.”)

But not all that many other Republicans seemed excited about joining in. A few social conservatives did unveil a hitherto-unnoticed passion for the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom to make fun of religion. “It was disheartening to hear the administration condemn Americans engaging in free speech that hurt the feelings of Muslims,” said Senator Jim DeMint.

And, let’s see, who else. Donald Rumsfeld tweeted support. Party chairman Reince Priebus chimed in: “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.” Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said the embassy’s comment “is like the judge telling the woman that got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed.’ That’s the same thing.”

On this side: Mitt Romney, a totally disgraced former secretary of defense, a person named Reince Priebus, and a new Republican rape comment.

Two months to go and we’re rethinking our presumption that the Republican primary voters picked the most stable option.

(click here to continue reading Mitt’s Major Meltdown – NYTimes.com.)

Indistinct Memories
Indistinct Memories

from the American Prospect:

“Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.”

—President Obama to CBS News

Democrats were—obviously—outraged by Romney’s response to the crisis in Libya. But (some) Republicans have been quite miffed by their presidential candidate too.

  • Former Reagan speechwriter and eternally opinionated Peggy Noonan said, “In times of great drama and heightened crisis … I always think discretion is the way to go.”
  • Former ambassador Jon Huntsman said, “This is above all a reminder that politics should end at the waters’ edge.”
  • Indiana Senator Dick Lugar said, “I’m not going to make any comment about the political. None.”
  • Some Republicans did echo Romney’s words, like Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon: “Again and again under President Obama we have met threats and thugs with apologies and concessions.”
  • …[Sarah Palin said something stupid about wanting to see Obama’s penis]
  • Most Republicans stayed above the fray, though. Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan knew what to say: “The attacks on our diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya … this is outrageous. Our hearts are heavy. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
  • Senators McCain, Lieberman, and Graham released a joint statement saying, “We cannot give in to the temptation to believe that our support for the democratic aspirations of people in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere in the broader Middle East is naive or mistaken.”

(click here to continue reading Reckless Romney.)


and David Atkins notes:

What’s received less press is this tweet from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:

Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.

That’s the actual, nominal head of the Republican Party speaking, not some radio shock jock.

There is politics. There are lies, exaggerations and half-truths aplenty in politics. But then there are times when playing this sort of mendacious politics is even more offensive than usual. The death of a U.S. Ambassador is one of those times.

But this this is who they are, and what the official Republican discourse has been reduced to. It’s time the press started reporting the callous, lying extremism of the mainstream Republican Party for what it is.

(click here to continue reading Hullabaloo.)

Reebie Scarab – Kodachrome-esque

Detail of the Chicago Landmark, Reebie Storage Warehouse, Clark Street.

view bigger:

some history:


I think this place finally closed down recently

Reebie Storage Warehouse

I’ve long admired the Reebie Storage Warehouse, even purchased some moving supplies from there back in the 1990s, even though I probably didn’t need to. I have taken dozens of photos of the place over the years, a few of which are Flickr-ized

Reebie Building - Stand Like an Egyptian

Reebie Scarab - Kodachrome

I had a vague sense that the building was Egyptian Revival, but didn’t really glom onto the details until I discovered this blog post on the new BluePrint Chicago blog:

Egyptology was all the rage in the early 20th century, particularly after the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. One effect this had was seen in the popularization of Egyptian Revival architecture across the United States. However, not all of the buildings were equals in terms of being historically accurate. Some buildings fit into the category of Egyptian Revival, and some Academic Egyptian Revival. Egyptian Revival architecture was much more common, and though it had many Egyptian-like elements, it lacked a sensibility to Egypt’s history. Instead they were “picturesque” – which is lovely, but not necessarily accurate. Academic Egyptian Revival architecture was historically accurate. And The Reebie Storage Warehouse is one the country’s finest examples of Academic Egyptian Revival architecture.

The warehouse was based on two ancient Egyptian temples: Dendera and Edfu, both of which date back to the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II (around 200 BCE). The columns on the Reebie building are replicas of columns at the Temple Horus at Edfu. The ornamentation on them is symbolic of the unity of Ancient Egypt through the depiction of the bundled lotus flower which represents Upper Egypt, and the water lily representing Lower Egypt. On either side of the building’s entrance is a statue of Ramses II, representing the two Reebie brothers: William and John. Beneath the two statues are William and John’s names written in the hieroglyphic equivalent of their phonetic spellings. Two other hieroglyphic inscriptions read “I have protection upon your furniture and all sealed things” and “I have guarded all your property every day warding off devouring flames, likewise robbery.” All of the ornamental drawings for the Reebie warehouse were reviewed for accuracy by both the Field Museum and Art Institute prior to their implementation.

[Click to continue reading Reebie Storage Warehouse « BLUEPRINT: Chicago]

[via The Chicago Reader]