Tight Ass Tuesday: Partial Fail


So in case you hadn’t noticed, in the great game of “What do you do when you’re uninspired?” I’ve gone with option C, “POWER THROUGH.”

falafel makins

Sadly, I didn’t power through this meal the same way I plan to power through the post, but more on that in a minute.

Here’s my three step program for powering through:

  1. Sit somewhere different. For example, normally I’m sitting on the downstairs sofa, so I’m either watching So You Think You Can Dance out of the corner of my eye or looking at a set of bi-fold closet doors. Currently, I’m actually sitting in a chair at the kitchen table, looking past the computer at the wooden shutters covering the front windows. My perspective has been RADICALLY SHIFTED. I have little doubt that this will have an IMMEDIATE AND DRAMATIC IMPACT.
  2. USE MORE CAPITAL LETTERS. Just in the course of writing out point the first, I’m feeling reinvigorated. Did you see how dramatic it was? Let’s face it, if there are four things upon which this blog is built, they are (1) proper usage of prepositions; (2) food; (3) semicolons and (4) YELLING AT THE AUDIENCE. Some might add “cursing” as number 5, but I think of it as more of an unintended by-product. SUCK ON THAT.
  3. Accidentally hit on the Fresh Direct deliveryman. Sometimes it just happens. You’re home alone making dinner, you’re listening to Feist, you’re wearing an ill-fitting tank top that makes you look BOOBTACULAR and you’re monitoring the front door for the Fresh Direct people because you have a non-working doorbell and you don’t want them to knock on the window because it makes the dogs bark. And then they show up, and you look like you’ve been waiting, with your sexy music and boob shirt, just for them. It doesn’t help that half the light bulbs in the kitchen and living room are burnt out, giving the whole top floor of the apartment a dim, boudoir feel, if your dim boudoir included a refrigerator, range and IKEA cabinetry. Before you know it, you’ve made the deliveryman vaguely uncomfortable and written the first half of the set-up to a bad porn.

So: I’m in my new position, ready to be EMPHATIC and have boobs akimbo in case more Fresh Direct deliverypersons show up at the door. I am ready to POWER THROUGH.


It therefore would have been nice if dinner – falafel with yogurt-tahini cream – had been in any way cooperative. I suppose it didn’t actively thwart me; it didn’t burst into flames or steal all the money from our joint account to run away to Bermuda with a younger woman who doesn’t have it out for the Fresh Direct guy.*

Nope, instead it just…gave up. Folded. Threw in the towel. Stopped the threshing machine and sold off the wheat. By which I mean it disintegrated. I’m still not sure how; I made a pretty classic batter with chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin and a little hot pepper. I whizzed it in the FoPro, adding bulgar, until it just massed together into a dough. I refrigerated it to let everything come together. I scooped it into cute little balls just like they do at Ibby’s Falafel. Up until this point, there’s photographic evidence that everything occurred as described.

Then I heated some canola oil in a heavy pan, and everything went to hell. My cute little falafel spheres went in and started bubbling away furiously. I started salivating thinking about the amazing flavor of crunchy fried bulgar and my long-standing love of falafel. Well, that and my naturally-occurring hunger; it’s not like I’m the magical exception to Pavlov. I threw the yogurt cream together**, keeping an eye on the talkative, spattering pot all the while. When I judged that enough time had passed, I returned to the pot and gently probed the boiling oil with a slotted spoon.

And there was nothing.

Nothing at all.

*Note that falafel is not a signatory on any of my bank accounts. But that’s just because of financial restrictions, because I love and trust falafel implicitly. If anything went wrong with tonight’s attempt, I’m sure it was completely my fault.

**From this relatively unloved-by-the-maddening-crowd Smackdown; so easy, so, so good.

tahini yogurt cream

Okay, I take it back; there was something: the inchoate remnants of a falafel that never was. Bits of bulgar, chucks of chickpea, flecks of onion and herb,  fried to a golden brown and none attached to the other in any way that would create a recognizable falafel. It was as though, when dropped into the oil, all the falafel ingredients hurled themselves away from one another at high speed. Like the Big Bang, but with garbanzo beans.

Maybe that’s what all the bubbling in the pot really was.

Since there were recognizable albeit itty-bitty pieces of foodstuff in the bottom of the pot, I’m proud to say that this falafel was not as great a food failure as the time my father forgot lamb chops on the grill for such a long time that they were 100% burned away. We sniffed at the air for dinner that night, hoping to inhale a particle or two of lamb char.

I couldn’t drink the oil to get at the falafel components and my god that looks even more disgusting in writing than when I just thought it. Instead, I went to town on the yogurt-tahini cream – I went a little berzerk with the garlic, but Fresh Direct isn’t coming back for another week, so who cares how badly my breath stinks* – with some pita and called it a night. Truth be told, I wasn’t in the mood for a big supper anyway because SOMEONE whose name may or may not be PRIN convinced the office to get McDonald’s for lunch and going along with that was perhaps not one of my wiser decisions; it’s probably just as well I didn’t eat more fried things. Still, it’s the principle of the thing. I DO NOT BROOK FALAFEL BREAKDOWN.

Not that I have a choice, really; the pot of falafel corpse-strewn oil remains on the stove as a stark counter to my words. Next time, falafel. NEXT TIME.

*I know, Brian should care. But since he’s going to be eating it too, we’ll cancel each other out. Transitive property of garlic.

16 thoughts on “Tight Ass Tuesday: Partial Fail

  1. I hate deep frying stuff – I’ve had a very similar falafel experience where all I ended up with was elaborately crispy felafel crumbs. Disappointing! Glad you didn’t drink the oil, and gotta say the capitals do jazz things up a little (not that it needed jazzing in any way)

  2. If I may make a suggestion:

    stop using canned chick peas. Use dried chick peas and soak them. Put them in before you go off to work, or even the night before. If you must use canned chick peas, drain them and let them dry all day long and pray to the pagan god of your choice. Canned chick peas just go to pieces when you try to cook them. You could try squishing them through a colander or in a cheese cloth to extract as much liquid as possible…

    Use flour. Chick pea flour is perfect, but you can use Durum. Or even a bit of cornmeal. You don’t need a lot of flour, just enough to dust the ingredients and act as a binder. 1/8th tsp of baking powder and 1/8th of a teaspoon of arrowroot (per cup of the falafel) can help as well, but flour comes first. Arrowroot, btw, is waaaaay better than cornstarch in all things as a thickener — except dairy based sauces.

    Coarsely grind the chick peas. Grind the other ingredients however you like and mix them in, but mixing the food processor often leads to a grind that is too fine. I’d rather see rice sized bits of chickpea than not.

    If you do these things, it shouldn’t fall apart.

    Dang, now I need to go off and make falafel. Heading off to add it to next weeks menu….

  3. I have a few points to make:
    1) boobs akimbo is my new favorite phrase.
    2) maybe you should try writing some porn scripts to reinvigorate your creativity
    3) the exact same thing happened to me when I tried to make falafel not long ago…I vaporized it. Adam said the oil was too hot and my friend Kelly said it needed more flour. So lower temp + a little more flour = actual falafel we could eat instead of inhale as vapors from a vat of oil.

  4. I had falafel exploding on me once…. ever since I’ve given up deep frying the stuff and I just make patties out of the batter which I toss in a frying pan. Fail-safe method. Though I’m tempted to try the dried chickpeas method as described by fuzzy. It sounds like it could work… dun dun dunnnnnn!

  5. hahahaha… that is some funny sh*t!! glad you found your voice. geeze… now i want falafel. oooh, i just remembered, i have pita and hummus in the fridge. yay me!

  6. CAPS ATTACK! i love your 3 steps. i think i will print them out and hang them on my bathroom mirror for daily inspiration…

  7. i’m sooooo with jodi: “boobs akimbo” is my new catchphrase. those two words alone made the post. power through, girl. we need you! caps OR NOT!

  8. maybe packing them together by hand would help some. Oh…that sounds kind of dirty doesn’t it? he, he.

    I love me some falafel!!

  9. how about taking a *proud* day in the kitchen to make a massive batch of falafel, afterwards portioning them out into perfect numers in freezer bags for easy access on a weeknight….to pull a perfect portioned bag out on a wednesday night 2 weeks later, heat up your oil, pop in your bal…and….oily falafel dirt. : |

  10. I totally enjoyed this. I hate using LOL but you made me LOL with the Boobatacular bit. Bravo Michelle, glad to see you are powering through!

    I got the Sur le Table (sp??wtf?) catalog today and they had tons of bright colored fun stuff I wanted to send you but damn, I don’t know your mailing address…

    Be well,

  11. I am SO happy for your partial fail. Not happy that you failed. But happy that someone else failed where I did. Validation. Maybe, as fuzzy said, it’s the wetness of the chickpeas?

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