Falafel and Shwarma and Schnitzl Oh My!

I’m back from my two-week escapade all over Israel and all I can think about is how I want to be back in that gorgeous country with all my new friends.  I could talk for hours about the places I visited, but I would be lying by omission if I didn’t tell you that the food was the ultimate trip highlight.  I awoke each morning to a spread of yogurt, cheese, fresh fruit, and vegetables that would make you weep.  It has been difficult to adjust to a life without those breakfasts.  But don’t think we peaked at the beginning of the day.  Lunches were also spectacular.

Each day for lunch, we asked ourselves the same question: falafel, shwarma, or schnitzl?  The sandwiches are basically the same, the main ingredient is just swapped based on what you’re in the mood for that day.  They’re served in pita (fluffy and unlike what we have here in America), laffa (sort of like thin flatbread), or sometimes baguette.  Then comes the plethora of toppings.

The toppings can make all the difference.  On the first day, for instance, I put a curried mango sauce on top of my falafel (I think it’s called adom?).  I didn’t see this sauce for the rest of the trip but loved it.  Incidentally, I didn’t eat falafel beyond this first lunch because it was so unbelievable and I knew no other falafel would stand a chance.  Light, almost creamy on the inside, and just crispy enough on the outside.  After that, I mostly went with shwarma, meat on a spit.  The middle picture shown here is the shwarma I got at a truck stop.  I learned that much like bbq in the US, the best sandwiches in Israel can be found in hole-in-the-wall places like gas stations and random outdoor markets.  In the last picture (of schnitzl, breaded chicken), you’ll see one of my favorite toppings, french fries.  Americans have practically made french fries a separate food group, yet we haven’t been smart enough to put them inside the sandwich like they do in Israel.  It makes all the difference, especially when they soak up the hummus, tahina, cabbage, salad, and other toppings.  I may get strange looks, but I’ll be putting my fries inside my burger now that I’m back after having seen the light.

It’s bizarre being back and having to choose a lunch option that does not stem from this holy trinity of sandwiches.  It usually seems like New York has the best of everything when it comes to food, but I just don’t think I’ll be able to find any falafel, shwarma, or schnitzl that can compare to what I got in Israel.  ::Sigh::