Sometimes, people happen to attach certain foods and dishes to certain pleasant or bad memories, that’s probably more true when it comes to special cuisines, homemade childhood dishes, including delights, sweets and mind-blowing cravings ! Some people even prefer things that we may not like and others may dislike what we might like as well, especially foods that are attached to specific events in our lives, from traditional dishes related to cultural events to eventful meals all year round, and to me, Falafel is one of those eventful flirty delight pillars for my stomach’s ultimate satisfaction.
Lucky enough, I lived and studied close by a school which was a haven to many types of local restaurants and shops around its ambiance, to satisfy munchies of hungry and lusty students. But one advantage we had at that school was a famous local Falafel shop! famous because of having one of the best Falafel nibbles and appetizers anyone would crave during any moment of the day, especially moments like skipping class, sometimes for the whole day! just to hang out and about with school friends, trash talking teachers & the headmaster while creating specially designed and designated swearwords and nicknames that would fit their projected personalities, in the meantime… Checking out the females school on the other side of the wall. Sipping on hot tea under pouring rain, or a nice icy-chilled Mirinda under the hot and boiling sun, enjoying two, sometimes three Falafel sandwiches, sizzled with a teasing munch on cucumber pickles; but if we decided to hang out for a while more, knowing that two or three classes are carried out next, by oblivious teachers and educators, realizing we would be caught the next day by a demoralized headmaster and his fine thin and polished bamboo stick, aside from calling our parents over. “I did not pass by school that much, so my parents where only bothered in the couple of times I was arrested…I mean caught!!!
Wondering what could I have taken out from that experience! it must’ve been… after spending 12 years in the same school, I became part of that school, a mascot maybe, I could even pass as an administrator! And as long as I didn’t fail in any class, I was guaranteed a chair in the classroom. (I know what you are thinking…or not) I must’ve cheated, well… of course I did, among other things that I have learned, they tough me if I can get away with it, then its fine, realizing that fact in my own terms, since they do know me for a while now and I still do have a classroom chair filled with my books out there, its only natural that I keep on what I am doing! and even developed better techniques, instead of skipping school, I would attend! But wait for noon prayer times to come, the schools mosque gates open wide, one for the public, and one for school administrators like me
This is when I realized, this institution they call school is just not for me, it was boring, and the only fun was to create techniques to rebel against it, and hope to get out from that environment into something better…
fast forward a few years and many Falafel sandwiches later; walking dates between beautiful streets of the old town of Amman limestone houses, sharing a paper bag filled with Falafel teenage crunches. As I grew older, my Falafel stories became immense, crispy and delightful to satisfy other cravings, drifting away from firm textures of fried beans with smooth and silky homos topped with pine-nuts, pinches of ground cumin and virgin olive oil, my father tells me: “Get your mind off those Falafels” concentrate and tell me, what do you want to do with your life? I recall that day, after countless ring fights, sleepovers for a couple of weeks at friends houses, now I have to decide, he said: “Either you get a Job! Or you get proper education to hold as a key, he always talked about that ‘KEY’. The world functions that way, he said, or you have to develop a skill!
Fast forward a few more years to obtain some skills with occasional fading Falafel memories and corporate salads, searching for true meanings of life, filling my stomach with foods of culture from the east and the west, avoided raw food, and soaked with fried food, maybe I could satisfy my Falafel cravings, maybe I could have memories I could remember, but I kept remembering my fathers words: “Get your mind off those Falafels”! what do you want to do with your life?
I kept wondering about those skills that I must have, what kind of skills! I had no idea, does that mean I need to make something, create it with my own hands, what was it? tourism, customer service, supervisor, manager, CEO, what skill is he talking about? those need degrees… Alright, maybe I try higher studies to obtain more skills! maybe now they are different than those who came and claim to be educators.
Here we go again! back to school, but maybe this time, a little bit of more freedom! now I can take a train, a couple of days off work during the week, and all the Falafel sandwiches I can get on the way to my education, I still can remember the excitement of skipping work to go to school!
A couple of years go by, I obtained more knowledge “Go figure” only to realize that this was not the Job for me, I needed to leave! I realized I was a slave, and will never become that three lettered CEO, even with that degree, what to do? a question I always renewed while more years passed by, and less Falafel were eaten to satisfy, and like an addict on a spree, jumping in oil pans from trees.
Getting whiff scents of other cultures, wandering in worlds I never dare to be under. My Falafel craving was vanishing with sizzles of thickened oil and continuous wonder! It was time to change… I needed to break-free, I needed to be lost, but I still needed to find a new flavor with some sort of culture.
Bathing with spices of the orient, I stumble upon other beggared beans, white small kidney beans…I am emotionally allergic to those, I refused them then and I will refuse them now! I rebelled on them then, I can rebel on them now. but for some reason I dig into the past and saw them crawling into my childhood mind, sneaking from the blissful hands of my mother, into my subconscious dishes.
I find my self away from all those thoughts… and Falafel cravings! accepting feeds of childhood cultures from true blissful hands, only then did I realize that, I am only what my parents made me! and no matter what culture, education, history, present or future you throw at me, my parents gave pillars to my subconscious culture.
And that’s how it shall begin…