Perhaps one of my fondest travel memories is the time my husband and I discovered Maoz, an international “fast food” falafel chain. I use quotation marks because this is far from the greasy stuff that will spring to mind. At Maoz, you get a pita pocket stuffed with falafel, which is a flavorful deep-fried patty made from ground garbanzo beans and spices. Then you’re welcomed by a glorious salad bar with tons of options: fresh, pickled, and fried veggies; tabouleh; coleslaw; and a variety of sauces.
Maoz falafel was our first real meal after touching down at Charles de Gaulle in Paris. Less than a week before our departure, I got food poisoning. I was fine within a few days, but then Ian got sick too … during the flight. By the time we reached our hotel in Paris, we passed out, exhausted, and slept through part of the next day.
On our second full day in Paris, we finally ventured out of the hotel to check out Notre Dame. For lunch, we wandered around the Latin Quarter looking for a place that Ian had researched before we left. Little did we know this would be our best meal of the trip by far. We bought our pitas, stuffed them with veggies and sauces, then looked for a place to eat.
We found some steps across from Shakespeare and Company, a famous English-language bookstore, and sat down. As we started eating, we realized we had stumbled upon an amazing eatery. We both liked falafel before, but this falafel was better than any other: a little crispy on the outside, and soft and flavorful on the inside. Plus, the condiments added so much interesting texture and taste.
We had Maoz once more on our last day in Paris, and were sad to say goodbye. Last year, when we were planning our honeymoon in London, I immediately checked to see if there was a Maoz in the city. Luckily, there was! We ate there three or four times during our honeymoon. Cheap and delicious.
We’re still holding out hope that a Maoz will take over a nearby burger joint—or at least that Seattle will get a Maoz someday. Until then, I’ll continue making my own falafel and Greek salad. Together, these two make up my favorite meal. I have my friend Shelly and my mother-in-law Michele to thank for these recipes.
UPDATE 7/11: Sorry I don’t have any photos of Maoz falafel, but I just discovered a great post about Maoz (with photos) by David Lebovitz.
2–4 cloves garlic
½ large onion
15 oz can garbanzo beans
1 tsp red pepper flake
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 large egg
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup canola oil
Using a food processor, finely chop the garlic. Put the onion and garbanzo beans in next and process until roughly chopped. Add red pepper flake, cumin, salt, and pepper, then pulse a few times to mix. Add the egg and flour to the food processor, and process until smooth.
Heat the canola oil in a Dutch oven or very large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, drop the falafel mix by spoonfuls into the sizzling oil. Cook for 4–5 minutes on each side, until brown.
Serve in grilled pitas with tzatziki, tahini, lettuce, and Greek salad.
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup pepperoncinis
½ cup Kalamata olives
½ cup crumbled feta
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
Combine cucumber, tomato, bell peppers, red onion, pepperoncinis, Kalamata olives, and feta in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients, then toss with salad.