Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Google is celebrating felafel.  The Google Doodle made me laugh out loud - little round balls of fried chickpeas encouraging one another to join the fun in the pita pocket lined with veggies.  There is no looming mouth full of teeth ready to destroy their happiness, there's only joy.

That's exactly how I feel about felafel - only joy.

We first met in 1969, the summer I spent in Israel.  We landed in Haifa after sailing across the Mediterranean from Greece.  The food on the ship had been recognizable; the food in Greece was not.  Italy had been strange forms of pizza and under-cooked pasta.

Try to remember that this was 50 years ago.  Gyros were exotic.  Al dente was a concept yet to be embraced.  Fast food was a hot dog or a pretzel from a cart in New York City.  Otherwise, we sat down and ate at restaurants. 

Israel was filled with street vendors.  Nothing looked familiar and everything smelled delicious.  We were free to wander on our own, picking up lunch where we found it.  I found felafel, and fell in love.

Doused with garlicky vegetables, covered in yogurt sauce, dipped in hummus.... I ate it all.  As a mid-morning snack it was just enough to get me through to the later-than-I'd-like-it Teen Tour lunch.  While my friends spent their afternoons eating chocolate covered everything they could lay their hands on, I devoured those crunchy nuggets with reckless abandon.

Greeting me at Kennedy Airport (just 6 years after JFK's assassination, we were still getting used to not calling it Idlewild) G'ma was stunned. 

"Gad, you're fat!" was the first thing she said to me.

 After not hearing her voice for 10 weeks (remember, telecommunications were exorbitantly expensive back then) I was stunned right back.  I'd always been the skinny kid, the one who could eat anything and never gain a pound.

My shorts hadn't shrunk so that I couldn't zip them.  Those felafel had taken their toll. 

Being in love is hard, sometimes.

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