Friday, July 17, 2009

Ali Baba Gets Mainstream Props

My friends Mohamed and Nordin of Ali Baba Falafel have become Wisconsin Avenue celebrities.

As Mohamed made my falafel – which, thanks to the most recent of Ali Baba’s many falafel evolutions, now includes red cabbage – he detailed the star treatment he has received over the past few days. Customers have asked him for his autograph, and they’ve taken photographs of themselves with Mohamed’s bright green parakeets, Sharazad and Shahryar.

All thanks to a good review by Catherine Cheney in Wednesday’s Washington Post. “The difference is amazing,” says Mohamed. He estimates that he usually gets about a hundred customers on a given week day. Since Wednesday, that number has doubled.

But Mohamed hasn’t let his new rock-star status go to his head. He’s as friendly and generous as always. I’m used to receiving Mohamed’s gifts of free beverages, side dishes, and deserts. But I saw some newcomers regarding Mohamed’s offers with suspicion. They took their free food and drink tentatively, seemingly checking for bear traps.

Mohamed is a nice guy, but he's also a shrewd self-promoter – he has already laminated the Post article and a series of other reviews for display by the side of the stand. He isn’t the only self-promoter, though. I’m currently printing out my first blog about Ali Baba so Mohamed can laminate my review, too.

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