"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Falafel Fail Redux with Schadenfreude Sauce

by Julie on December 8, 2010

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

Yeah, I tried making my own falafel a while ago, and the results were predictable. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s supposed to be simple, but what’s simple to one cook is too often simply incomprehensible to me.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one out there who makes a mess of things.  Sunday night I get a text from the kids’ dad: “Wow. Enormous, nay, spectacular falafel failure. Rolled the refrigerated mix into balls, and dropped them into hot oil, where they dissolved into a violently green falafel soup…you would have been proud.”

He sent pictures. And I was more than proud, really. I was delighted. He was always a better cook than me. And a certified genius with garnish.

But falafel eludes even him. Incompetence loves company.

What happened? He couldn’t quite say. he’d followed the recipe on page 523 in How to Cook Everything, which called for baking powder but didn’t say when to add it. Perhaps too much water used to blend the materials? Maybe the oil wasn’t hot enough?

Things started well enough, as they always do. Here’s what they looked like pre-frying.

Falafel Fail redoux: it could have worked out so beautifully...

Behold! The golden nuggets of hope and wonder, Charlie!

And the shocking results:

Nobody's falafel

Nobody's falafel

Now I’m getting annoyed. Aren’t these little buggers supposed to be fast and easy? Maybe I’ll try them again this weekend with both eyes open and a zen focus like a laser beam…God I’m mixing my metaphors. You know what I mean. I only learned how to make dal and tortilla Espanola after enough blow-out failures got my Irish up and I decided it was eat or be eaten.

Sorry. Bad. I really, really need to go get coffee now.

Got a spectacular failure in the kitchen to relate? I know you do. Hit me.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah December 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm

wow! what a falafel disaster, but no worries, I will give you free consultations from the falafel center of the world;-) Did you, by any chance, cook the chickpeas?


Julie December 9, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Sarah – I would LOVE to learn from the experts. Please enlighten me!!


Sarah December 9, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Falafel 101

never use canned chickpeas
never use cooked chickpeas
flour is not necessary
oil must be hot enough so the balls don’t stick to the bottom
Dry chickpeas that have been soaked and ground to a sandy texture is best. (I have a recipe on blog which worked for me and others)
Good Luck!


Katja February 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Hi there Julie!

While perusing the internet in search of a recipe for leftover falafels I stumbled upon your blog. What caught my eye was your correct use of the word “Schadenfreude” – congratulations, not many Americans know what it means!

My spectacular failure in the kitchen happened when I tried to make baked kale. It is oh so healthy but for whatever reason my kale did not come out as crisp as desired (sorry, I did not take any pictures to document this epic moment). However, ever since that time my family mentions “baked kale” as one of the things they never want to see on the menu again 😉


Julie February 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Hi Katja – Yeah, I’m not a big fan of kale myself. No, not even baked kale, which some think of as the perfect beer food (like potato chips, but good for you.) Meh. it’s just too green. And try to make them myself? Oh hell no. Congratulations on attempting such a feat.
Schadenfreude. One of my most favorite words…
Thanks for reading!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: