Friday, January 27, 2012

Always Accept Food From Strangers...

East Side Pockets - Providence, RI      

     If ever I have tasted something so similarly delicious to that of my Grandmother's food, it slid down my gullet yesterday at East Side Pockets in Providence, RI. Let me tell you. Brown and RISD students really have it good. They're right by the water, and they have East Side Pockets. Owned and operated by adorable little Mediterranean men since 1997, East Side Pockets is definitely a local favorite. It was prime lunch time and the place was packed, but they had no difficulty churning people out of there. I wanted falafel. I needed falafel. But with a 2k looming right around the corner, I knew fried food was not in the books. As I stood longingly gazing upon the buckets of falafel behind the counter, I was hit with a sudden wave a its delicious scent. A tall, round man stood next to me with one falafel ring dipped in humus and tucked in a piece of tissue paper. If that falafel had eyes, they would've been locked with mine at that very moment. He saw me. He saw me eyeing his prize. The man behind the counter had given it to him for free for being such a loyal customer. Round man (the professor type) asked me nicely, "Would you like to try it?" Believe me. I fought it. The largest mental battle of my day waged on in my head. Mom said never to take food from strangers, but he seemed so nice. The falafel seemed so hot. The line was long. I was hungry. He hadn't taken a bite yet. He was very persistent. He asked me three more times, and yes... I gave in. Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. The little guy looked like a doughnut (the falafel, not the generous stranger), but I got no hummus with it. There was no way I wasn't going to experience the entire package. Once I approached the counter, I ordered the Gryo Pocket and asked if I could try one falafel. He happily gave me the same setup as round man. This one was mine, and the first bite was heaven. The HUMMUS. Oh my word, the hummus about sent me to the floor. Not a clue what made it so good. It was just smooth. The falafel was hot, and I mean hot. Savoring each bite like it was the last, I grabbed my gyro and headed to meet Andrew by the window. 

       Now, normally when you get a gyro (at least the gyros I've had before) they come in a smaller sized wrap, say 8 inches in diameter and the wrap is thicker and a little chewy. You spend more time chewing than you do anything else. Not this one. The wrap itself was the good stuff. It was thin (but still had 2 layers like a normal pita pocket), browned a little more in some areas, and was about 14 inches in diameter. It was like the pitas my grandma buys. The whole gyro had to be at least a foot long and it was not skinny. It was stuffed with their greek seasoned gyro meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, banana peppers, hummus, tabouleh, tahina and their yogurt cucumber sauce. Each slice of gyro meat had a slightly crisp edge and was hot, but the hummus and veggies were cool. Instantly I was lost in its majesty. So many flavors. The cucumber sauce was unlike any other cucumber sauce I've tried before. I seem to recall others having more of a sour taste. But not this one. It was mild, but the flavor was still there. The blend of the hummus, tahina and yogurt cucumber sauce was phenomenal. It was the figurative topping on my gyro cake. I told myself from the start that I wouldn't eat it all. I should've known better. I had no elbow room. This place was slammed and no one was leaving with leftovers. There were signs telling me I'd fall through with previous declaration of limitation. Long story short, I licked the paper. There was nothing left. Not a scrap. I felt fresh and was full. Happily settled in my little post-gyro state of bliss and bewilderment, Andrew and I slipped out the door and were on our way. Props to you East Side Pockets. You've achieved the dream. Or rather, helped me achieve my gyro dream. 

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