Friday, May 14, 2010 at 7 a.m.
The perfect snack for curly redheads and nerds.
Photo by Riki Altman
Continuing my eating adventures with the theme of "funky Middle Eastern foods," I came across another curious find: Osem's Falafel Flavor Bissli. I examined the packaging on this "party snack" and wondered who it was meant to attract, since it features two cartoon characters -- one confused nerd and the other a ringer for Butt-Head, only with curly red hair. But no matter; it got my attention, and I was ready to give this Israeli product some American love.
Upon further research, I learned that the two icons -- laid-back, witty, and sharp-tongued Grill and the depressive and apprehensive Barbeque (who is always freaked that he'll run out of Bissli!) -- were made to attract teenagers.
I burst open the bag and found it loaded with little brown noodles, not unlike the kind one is greeted with at any Chinese restaurant. But these little guys are refried and hopped-up with falafel-smelling spices. (For those of you who need a frame of reference, falafel is basically fried balls of ground-up chickpeas with onion, parsley, sesame seeds, and spices like cumin and coriander. Often served inside a pita -- or on the McFalafel -- falafel tends to be a popular sandwich filler in Middle Eastern countries and anywhere else vegetarians gather.)
It's impossible to eat these Bissli one at a time, although it would provide someone with at least an hour's worth of snacking pleasure if he or she had the willpower to try. Each noodle is composed of wheat flour, palm oil, spices, dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, salt, monosodium glutamate, and corn starch. Obviously not much nutritional value there but still the makings of a fun snack.
Who should eat this? Folks craving falafel and Chinese food simultaneously and those who don't mind having wicked breath for a good half-hour afterward.