Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche.
When Ford rolled out a step-van in 1974, who knew that it was destined to someday become a legend out here in Far West Texas? That legend is now known far and wide, by celebrities and us regular folks, as the Food Shark.
In 2006, the Food Shark began serving Mediterranean food for lunch in Marfa. We discovered Adam Bork parked under the pavilion next to the now St. George Hotel several years ago, and fell in love with the delicacies immediately.
I remember our very first experience with the Food Shark. The line was long and filled with people who knew the value of waiting for their Mediterranean fare to come out of the food truck’s window. I had the Combo Plate (two falafel balls with yogurt, tahini and harissa sauces, Greek salad, hummus and flatbread) and my husband had a shrimp salad special that was out of this world delicious. We ate at a huge table under the shade of the pavilion, chatting with other diners who were visiting from New Mexico. We were hooked, and followed the Food Shark all around Marfa with every location change.
The Combo Plate before I ate it all.
We’ve enjoyed many dishes including the Lamb Kebabs, Greek salads, Combo Plates, and the ever-wonderful Marfalafel. I once ate the Marfalafel twice in the same week, and they were consistently delicious. That was a great week. In addition to the Mediterranean inspired fare, you can order a variety of sandwiches and daily lunch specials. My husband and I are in conflict over Mediterranean vs. Middle Eastern when it comes to describing the Food Shark’s menu, as most of the items are typically known as Middle Eastern. He says Middle Eastern. I say, it’s Marfa, and therefore they’ll call it whatever they want.
Lamb Kebabs are tender and savory.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Food Shark, you might be wondering what language I’m speaking when I mention the Marfalafel… just say, “Marfa” and “falafel” quickly and that’s how you say it. A Marfalafel is like a big, Mediterranean/Middle Eastern burrito. It’s a large flour tortilla filled with falafel balls, fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, tahini, yogurt and harissa sauces, and you can have it with or without hummus.
The famous Marfalafel.
What are falafel balls, you might be wondering? And tahini? And harissa sauce? Falafel is balls of ground chickpeas, onion, garlic, fresh herbs, and spices, fried until they are golden and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds, lemon juice and garlic. Harissa sauce is a North African hot pepper sauce seasoned with cumin, coriander and caraway. Everything served out the Food Shark window is fresh and flavorful beyond description and my mouth just watered thinking about the Marfalafel.
Pictured above are Food Shark Adam Bork with friend Mark Scott (of Fat Lyle’s Food Truck fame) on a sunny Saturday in Marfa.
Food Shark is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and is located at 909 West San Antonio Street / Highway 90 in Marfa, next to Moonlight Gemstones on HWY 90.
Traditional Falafel (inspired by the Food Shark and adapted from Epicurious)
1 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons flour
oil for frying (high heat oil like grapeseed or avocado oil)
Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts.
Heat 3 inches of oil to 375ºF in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain before serving in a pita, on a bed of greens, or in a big flour tortilla with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and your favorite sauces.