June 17, 2011

what I like: street food

A few weeks ago, we met up with one of my friends at a cafe in the Marais, where we had a completely terrible lunch. Limp salad greens, dried out radishes and carrots, mayonnaise-from-a-jar masquerading as salad dressing (straight up mayonnaise from a jar, people!), a chewy and inedibly dry pork chop, and mushy vegetables. What. Yes. I know. Bad. Our share of the bill was 35 euros, which will not be converted to dollars for you, because it annoys me to think about it (though at least the people who made/served it were getting a living wage?).

To be honest, I was mostly annoyed because if I had only walked 3 blocks away to the rue des Rosiers, I would have been able to fill my belly with one of the most delicious and inexpensive meals in Paris.


The area around Rue des Rosiers has at least a cool half-dozen places selling falafel from a take-away window. I ate and fell in love with my first Parisian falafel way back in '03 and have been sampling the different falafel joints ever since. Accordingly, I have opinions. First, some may call foul or blasphemy or both, but here goes: L'As, the most famous joint, is good and their turnover guarantees freshly fried falafel. Unfortunately, their falafels are almost always over-filled and over sauced. This is not something I want to wait in line for, plus waiting in line in Paris always makes me feel like a sucker. A touristy sucker. Mi Va Mi, across the way, can be good but is inconsistent; sometimes the pita is dry or the salads are oversalted or the falafel is cold and greasy. No. Chez Marianne makes very good falafel toppings (hello cabbage salad and sauce piquante!), but the takeaway falafel isn't always hot.

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This brings us to Chez Hanna, my falafel vendor of choice. The falafel is flecked with herbs. The cabbage salad, shredded carrots, and cubed cucumbers are tasty and crisp. The pita bread is warm and chewy. And -- a biggie for me -- the sauces add to, but don't overwhelm, the main event.  My only complaint: the fried eggplant isn't always hot and could use a little salt, but I deal. I'm not saying it's always perfect, but I like it.

Last week, we picked up falafels and beers before meeting Mark in the Place des Vosges. He was kind enough to bring a blanket; we stretched out on the grass and attacked our food. Someone devoured her falafel so enthusiastically that she found hot sauce on her nose.

picnic, place des vosges

It was a lovely evening.


lovely light in the Marais

1 comment:

JDog said...

I say yes to street food! It's def worth trying - even if you end up not liking it, at least it was only several dollars instead of a bazillion.