Five Lessons from my Falafel Fail
(See the nifty alliteration I did there?)

A few weeks ago, I decided to make falafel. Why? Because a cooking website emailed me the recipe, and because falafel is fun to say when you’ve had two glasses of wine. I made a few mistakes during my cooking spree, and I’ve decided to pass my new-found knowledge on to you. You’re welcome.

Lesson #1: Falafel, falafel, falafel…

Yes, it’s fun to say falafel after drinking two glasses of wine. But don’t be stupid—you know you can’t cook after drinking wine, so step away from the stove, dammit (sorry…I was talking to the mirror).

Lesson #2: Find out what falafels actually are so you’ll avoid injury while making them

Falafels are actually fried vegetarian fritters—crispy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside. Did you know that falafel is actually an ancient Arabic word which translates to “hot oil burns really badly” in English? ‘Nuff said.

Lesson #3: When they say the oil is important, they mean the oil is important

The recipe insisted that I use an oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed oil. Well, I didn’t have grapeseed oil, and the grocery store was way too far away (at least one minute down the road, and I was in my pajamas) so I dumped extra virgin olive oil into the pan. Turns out extra virgin olive oil does not have a high smoke point—its smoke point is approximately two degrees above room temperature. I set off all three smoke detectors, and two of them had to be tossed outside because they wouldn’t stop screaming.

Lesson #4: Never “wing it” when making falafel

The recipe said to soak dried chickpeas overnight, then grind them up in a food processor the next day. That struck me as a bit silly, since I already had nine cans of chickpeas in the cupboard (yes, I’m ready for the apocalypse) plus I wanted to try falafel immediately. So I substituted canned chickpeas. Don’t do that.

I also decided to skip the chill-before-forming-into-balls stage and just drop the room temperature gunk by rounded teaspoons into the oil. Don’t do that.

Falafels are supposed to look like small, anemic meatballs and taste like pure awesomeness. My falafels exploded the instant they hit the hot oil, then danced across the surface as they quickly charred, forming a layer of mutant vegetarian bacon bits.

Lesson #5: Give up

I finally managed to make ball-shaped falafels. I did it by dumping flour into my canned chickpea mush until it would hold its shape. Once submerged in the boiling cauldron of smoking extra virgin olive oil, my falafels quickly transformed into little black balls of death—dry on the outside, dry on the inside, with a 100% chance of lodging in the throat of unsuspecting victims. If it hadn’t been for the wine I guzzled to wash them down, I might not be here today. If you want to find out how truly delicious falafels are—and they are delicious—don’t come here. I’ve finally scrubbed all the oil splatters off my cupboards, and I’ll be ordering them in restaurants from now on.

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(See the nifty alliteration I did there?)

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