For the steak of the argument (1): Falafel King

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פאָאָלס זענען מער

Martinelli in Israel

Years ago, if you'd go from Avenida Balboa up the street next to Los Delfines, Calle Anastacio Ruiz, you'd find a small food place called Mukis Falafel. It started as just a counter with a small terrace, and then the terrace was closed in to provide an air conditioned environment to clients. Next to it was a car wash where they also fixed go-karts.

Mukki prepared falafel as it should be, rich in taste and texture and with a great choice of sauces and other add-ons. Sometimes he managed to get lamb meat (not easy in Panama) so that he could prepare shoarma too. He'd left Israel because it was too hectic for his taste, and managed the falafel restaurant together with his wife. I think they also had a business going in the Colon free zone.

One day I went back there and it had gone. Not just Mukis Falafel, no, the whole building had gone, and so had the building next to it that housed "Café Café", which was the more yeye Jewish place in town, to make room for yet another tower that was of course never built.

So, I was glad to note that on the new "food plaza" of the ever expanding Albrook Mall there was now a "Falafel King". It had no clients, while a long line stood in front of Kenfucky Fried Chicken. Up I went and ordered a shoarma.

Malls are horrible places to eat. There's noise everywhere, there was some very bad dance presentation courtesy of Claro & Useless, and TV's were spouting the news at the same time. Martinelli was in Israel and of course he got himself in trouble. Is Ricardo Martinelli, Caliph of Panama, indeed kosher? Our bumbling Grand Duke of 99 and his entourage have in just under a week dangerously increased the chances we won't have falafel or shoarma in Panama at all. Proclaiming Israel the "guardians" of Jerusalem with his usual muddleheadedness, our national disgrace managed to upset those same Arabs with whom he so proudly was doing business just days before. And they're angry!

Yes, Martinelli, people in the Middle East are thin-skinned and have short fuses. It's not like Latin America where you can just burp out whatever comes to mind because nobody takes you seriously anyway. Stupid excuses don't work either.

Anyway, the meshugener is back home and my shoarma arrived. It sucked. The pita bread was ice cold. The meat had some herbs on it, but none of the obligatory sauces and dressings were provided and instead the girl offered catsup - which is worse than what Martinelli did; like singing a nazi song next to the Wailing Wall.

Where's Mukki in this time of need? He may be the only one able to sort out the mess we're in, with Arab hostilities imminent and no decent shoarma to be had. Meanwhile, the only place known to us in town that serves a passable falafel is Restaurant Beirut, in the banking district. Just don't tell them if you voted for Martinelli.

UPDATE: From the Colón Free Zone (see the comments below) we received the sad news that Mukki died a couple of years ago from a heart attack. No good thing can ever stay the way it is, or so it seems.

[dewplayer: http://www.bananamarepublic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/03-Track-3.mp3]

6 thoughts on “For the steak of the argument (1): Falafel King

  1. I lived in Israel 2 years back in the 60’s and 70’s. I’m a falafel maven. My kingdom for a good falafel! Actually the falafel at Deli Market restaurant in the basement of MultiCentro is pretty darn good. i had one yesterday and it wasn’t quite as good as usual but still worth the trouble of parking in that dungeon. $3.99 folks, go get it. Let me know your opinion.

    I’m going to Albrook today to try the Falafel King falafel. At least I can watch the parade of cuties even if the falafel is sub par. jajaja

  2. I have eaten at One Falafel in two different locations hoping to replace my beloved Mukki. But to no avail. Great presentation but absolutely zero taste. The falafal had no spice and the sauce insipid.

    As for the Calif of Panama, I imagine his depth of understanding of the situation in the Middle East came from those slanty line excuses for textbooks (with pages cut by an office guillotine) that are offered to the unfortunate pupils of the education system in Panama.

    “Our History of Jerusalem” written by Mercedes Kuki Arias de Obarrio de Chanis, 1943 winner of the Club Union Sombrero Contest, the prize of which was her Mediterranean Cruise which included Isreal and an excursion to Jerusalem.

  3. I miss Muki’s as well. I loved the the falafel sandwich with french fries and a nice cold beer. I discovered the place in the late 1990s when I worked in that neighborhood. We need to locate Muki and persuade him to reopen in some other convenient spot.

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