For a simple description, I ventured over to Wikipedia. ("Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information." -Michael Scott, The Office).
A falafel is a fried ball made from spiced chickpeas and/or fava beans. It is often served with pita bread and various dressings, tangy tahini being the most common. See below (clockwise from top left): traditional hummus with olive oil and chickpeas, wheat pita bread, and five falafel balls in tahini.
me: [hesitantly] Hi, I'm Katy, nice to meet you.
falafel: Uh huh, I know who you are. I'm falafel, but I know you already know that. You've been avoiding me for years.
me: Hey now, that's not totally true. I just thought we should have a proper meeting... and being served out of a van or truck along the street never seemed right to me.
falafel: Excuses, excuses.
me: No, really! Rachel said you were really fantastic and I should wait until I got to New York to meet you myself.
falafel: Okay, fine, point taken. [pauses] So, what do you think?
me: Crunchy outside, light interior... really flavorful, kinda warms me all over like a comfort food traditionally does. You remind me of something...
(after further "conversation" with falafel, and even his friends hummus and pita)
me: I'VE GOT IT!!! I'VE GOT IT!!
me: Tacos! You remind me of tacos!
falafel: [sigh] Just great.
Ah yes, the taco. Now, I should be clear. The flavor reminded me most of those taco seasoning packets you'd buy to mix with ground meat when making tacos. And I love that flavor. I can't speak for all falafel, since this was my first, but it was delicious. We shared the above food and were perfectly satisfied (but we did eat cookies an hour later). The hummus was velvety smooth and not overly oily like some store-bought brands. The pita was warm and soft. And the falafel. Good grief. It was divine. And the tahini sauce was a little tangy, sorta reminding me of Greek yogurt just a bit. I want another after talking about it.
But, much to my dismay, I can't return to NYC whenever I get the falafel itch. Does anyone know a good falafel place around Pittsburgh? I'd be greatly indebted to you for any direction.
And hey, give falafel a try if you're still skeptical. You'll be handsomely rewarded. No, really, I'll buy you a pony if you can prove you tried one for the first time.
And who doesn't want a pony? Exactly.