The Falafel guys

Ramez Chalhoub and Ahmad Altaouil are The Falafel Guys at the Lansdowne Farmers’ Market. Photos: Vivian Croll

By Vivian Croll

Many Glebites have discovered The Falafel Guys on Sundays at the Lans-downe Farmers’ Market. Their culinary delight is a fresh falafel sandwich made right before your eyes. It is a visual sensation, a feast of smells and flavours, a special treat for the senses.

Ramez Chalhoub and Ahmad Altaouil are the The Falafel Guys. I met Chalhoub who told me that the pita is made from just flour and water. Then the form is made using a traditional “pillow” known as a kara. The bread is flattened out and then thrown up in the air like a pizza. It takes just 10 seconds to bake the bread on a hot oven called a saj. The saj looks like a half dome and it is very hot. I see three pita breads baking on the saj, turned once so that both sides are baked. The falafels are made fresh daily, using a traditional recipe of chick peas, garlic, parsley and spices. The dry chickpeas are soaked overnight, then ground up to make the falafel mix which is then fried into succulent balls. Traditional pickled turnips are used in the sandwich and beets give it that red colour.

Altaouil used a saj in his native Syria. When the time came for him and his family to leave for Canada in January 2016, their saj had to be left behind.

Chalhoub and Altaouil crossed paths in Wakefield, QC and it wasn’t long before The Falafel Guys came to be. You can watch Altaouil expertly form the soft dough, throw it up in the air, then carefully place it on the saj for the quick bake of a fresh pita. The freshly-fried falafels are then assembled by a crew with quick and expert precision and voila, delicious traditional Syrian street food prepared fresh from scratch.

Chalhoub tells me that they were invited to cook for Justin Trudeau for a special event. But you don’t have to be prime minister to eat this delicious food and given the lineups at their stall, a lot of people want to try it. You should too.

The Falafel Guys are at the Lansdowne Farmers Market on Sundays. Their website is www.falafels.ca, Instagram @falafels.ca and FB.

Vivian Croll is a retired Glebe resident who loves writing and taking photos.

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