Some relationships strike as quickly as a spark jumps into an awaiting pool of gasoline, and burn brightly long after you can keep your eyes open. My observations have yielded that many more resemble Bear Grylls starting a fire in the wintry forests of Siberia: he spends an hour or so collecting dry fluff and wood, then works on it, blows on it, puffs some more, piles more wood, and at the end of the day, he has a reasonable little burn. It’s still a fire. He’s still warm all night, and he even gets to roast bits of the frozen moose that he found. It’s a good fire that does what it is supposed to, without burning more fuel than he can provide it.
That is how I found this little half-sandwich to be: not remarkable, not blazing proudly into the night, but solid, reliable, and with a little bit of heat.
Dish Three: Falafel Sandwich (spicy) at Mama’s Vegetarian, 20th and Ranstead
Mama’s is approximately larger than your grandma’s living room, and, if you will excuse my crassness, it was straight out of a scene from “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”, in fact, the young man assembling the pitas looked just like Adam Sandler’s best friend in the movie. (That’s a compliment.) In any case, it was a jolly and male dominated lunch place, with no “Mamas” in sight. One bite into the pita, and I understood the bliss that permeated the air; the falafel was fresh out of the fryer, with a nutty, mealy texture and a clean grassy flavor, the yogurt sauce was good, the spiciness was just enough to make an overweight businessman feel a little bit badass without making him worry about heartburn later, and THE PITA WAS EXQUISITE. I have never had its equal. The dough was soft and chewy and faintly sweet, and while the sandwich was good, the bread was what caused me to glom it down in 7 minutes flat. Outstanding. There must always be one thing exceptional for two parties to continue an otherwise ordinary relationship. In the slow burning fire, there is the log that shifts and sends up a plume of sparks; in the long-standing friendship, the ability to know, even when separated by hundreds of miles, that a hug is required; the something that makes you look at someone and think, “I knew there was a reason I liked you so much.” Crude, maybe, but sometimes it can be a lot easier to approach something complex and sensitive when you compare it to food.
Tags: bear grylls, businessmen, center city, exceptional, exquisite, falafel, fire, gasoline, jersey, lunch, mama's, mediterranean, ordinary, Philadelphia, philly, relationships, spicy, starting a fire, vegetarian