Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ali Baba Falafel Update

On my most recent visit to Ali Baba, co-owner Mohamed dropped his spatula and ran over to ask me how I’d been. The guy all but hurdled the counter and offered to make out. Mohamed, and his business partner Nordin, are usually full of personality, but today Mohamed’s enthusiasm had reached new heights.

It didn’t take long to find out why. “I have been meeting many of your co-workers!” he beamed. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to him that I was recommending Ali Baba around the office at work as a good lunchtime excursion. Mohamed reported that he’s been reaping the benefits: my apparently falafel-crazy colleagues first came in curious strolls, then stampedes.

I’d like to think that my co-workers view me as some kind of culinary prophet. You can’t fire the guy in charge of discovering good lunchtime hangouts, right?

But I’m not as sure as Mohamed that I deserve credit for the recent lunchtime pilgrimages to Wisconsin Ave. I may have given him the impression that I was roaming the halls at my job with a megaphone and disrupting meetings with rogue powerpoint presentations about falafels, but I only remember praising Ali Baba to maybe three people. Afterwards, they never said anything about actually having gone there. A few of my agency’s 200,000 employees might have acted independently.

But if Mohamed wants to believe that I am to Ali Baba as William Shatner is to Priceline.com and reward me with even more complimentary tahini dogs and falafel fritters than usual, so be it.

In any case, I’m sure my colleagues haven’t been disappointed. Mohamed has tweaked his technique for frying up his fritters, with exceptional results. He divulged his secret new method to me on the condition that I wouldn’t spill the fava beans on this blog. I can say, however, that the revised approach allows him to fry the fritter more deeply while achieving an exterior that’s light and crispy, not tough and burnt like Moti’s Falafel in Rockville.

And another recent change that works well: they now fry the falafels in sesame seeds, giving them a fuller flavor.

So, by the virtues of charm and innovation, the future for Mohamed and Nordin looks bright. There’s just one possible rain-cloud on the horizon. Mohamed explained that Nordin was absent from the falafel stand so that he could watch the soccer team from his home country, Algeria, compete for a spot in the World Cup. The only thing standing in Algeria’s way? The squad from Mohamed’s home country, Egypt. Could a soccer match really come between these old friends and business partners?

Nordin threatened that if Algeria lost to Egypt, he could never show his face at Ali Baba again and would start his own falafel stand. Mohamed said he wasn’t completely sure that his buddy was kidding.

A few days ago, I read that Algeria lost. That’s okay with me – there’s a nice grassy patch across from my apartment just waiting for Ali Baba #2.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't count on an Ali Baba #2. Those Algerians are all talk!