Unlawful (Gluten-Free) Falafel

Look at our cute young faces from two years ago!

Ever since we left Paris two years ago, we haven’t stopped talking about the tantilizing falafel from the Jewish district that came well-recommended. Rick Steves advised walking past all of the stands until you get to L’As du Fallafel, which is truly the best. We followed his directions, and after eating the-best-falafel-in-the-world, we couldn’t deny that the taste was true to the claim.

I must admit I was a little bummed to miss out on the experience of guarding a falafel-filled pita in hand as we scurry to the Seine to enjoy the view and the perfect mixture of tzatziki, tomatoes, eggplant, vinegary cabbage, hummus and flavorful falafel. So, naturally, I found a substitute. I was shocked I did, but other travelers had raved about the restaurant’s gluten-free options, so I was excited to try it.

On Sunday, Scott and I scouted out my restaurant first. But upon arrival, I scanned the menu and couldn’t find any “sans gluten” items listed. When there was a break in the line, I politely inquired but was told they didn’t offer anything guarunteed gluten free. Though I was deflated, I was surprisingly excited to simply see Scott’s falafel. I wondered if it really was as good as we remembered. Because of the adventure of finding my restaurant, we arrived to L’As a little late only to find a line the stretched past about four stores down. We got in line as we debated if we should wait or go. Within a minute, there was someone taking Scott’s order and promising delivery within 17 minutes. Decision made. You can’t go all the way there and not get falafel! Believe it or not, it was definitely not a let down. Scott sighed from enjoyment with every other bite. By the end of the day, we had made plans to picnic the rest of our meals and return there again the next day for lunch.

This time we made it much earlier and the line was short, so we decided to ask if the fillings minus the falafel would be gluten free, but they said no. It was likely to be cross-contaminated. I appreciated their honesty and became decidely happy for my picnic food.

But, just as Scott was going to order, I decided I would ask the falafel place across the street, Mi Va Mi, about their “fillings.” It looked to be more of a sitdown restaurant with a bigger kitchen, but I was shocked to hear the response. I asked if they had anything sans gluten, and the two waitresses were quick to agree, “our falafel without the pita.”

“And, you should probably avoid the mayonnaise in the tzatziki sauce,” one of them added.

What?! I was shocked. I clarified about three times, using different words like flour, bread, even inquiring about their fryer. But, finally I believed them and ordered up a bowlful of goodness with falafel minus the pita. I watched as the cook showed me he used clean tongs and assembled my takeout box. With my box in hand and Scott’s hands full of his bulging L’As falafel, we made the dash to the river and sat down to enjoy falafel together. I don’t know what Mi Va Mi uses, but whatever it was, it was delicious! The doubting part of me wondered how sick I would be the next day from the gluten. But, several days out, I can assure you that it was safe and gluten-free, as promised. It was almost too good to be true that gluten-free falafel was just a few steps across the narrow street. Now, I just want their recipe!

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