Emergency Vegan Snacks: A love letter to Papou’s Kitchen

photo 2I didn’t mind switching to a mostly vegan lifestyle because A) Don’t you just love hummus? And B) I am perfectly comfortable switching out fried chicken for falafel.

Mostly. I will admit, after a couple of glasses of wine at a going-away party for a good friend–Little Miss Bounce a Quarter is moving to Bozeman and I don’t want to talk about it–I ate an entire buttermilk-battered fried chicken leg. It reminded me, much the same way I avoid communicating with people from old beloved jobs or attending parties where I might run into an old boyfriend, I need to stay away from delicious meaty foods. I may have started crying over how delicious that chicken was (Thank you, Camp) and how much I miss that savory, greasy goodness. But, I was able to disguise it as sadness over seeing my friend move 2,508 miles away, give or take a few feet.

So, now, as I think about that fried chicken, I look toward falafel for lunch, which brings me to Papou. Oh Papou!

If you see anything from Papou’s Kitchen available in your grocer’s freezer, I strongly urge you to try it. This is the guy who owned The Kitchen (a word many people who speak English as a second language confuse with the word “chicken,” which may or may not be a coincidence…) in Brunswick and eventually in Portland. Most of you will remember it was located until about five years ago on the corner between Paul’s Food Center and Congress Square Park, which is at the center of a rich debate about public land in Portland and whether it’s okay for the city council to sell that land to a private investor.

I digress. If you’re voting in Portland on June 10, I urge you to look into what’s going on there. It’s not a cut-and-dry issue. People from both sides of the aisle are taking opposite stances than their ideological buddies. I can’t even tell who has stars on their bellies and who doesn’t anymore and how long before the fix-it-up chap packs up and he…wents.

Let’s get back to Papou. Oh, Papou! One hungover morning on my way back from Southport, I swung into Treats in Wiscasset because I cannot resist that word…Treats… and because I was starving. I was wandering (which I initially misspelled as “wondering,” which in this case seems more appropriate) around that shop looking at the delicious non-vegan offerings with that burning empty too much coffee not enough to eat dizzy I had a little too much bourbon I really want some fried eggs but I know I’ll feel better if I eat a piece of fruit inner monologue when I stumbled upon a little freezer in the back. What I saw was VEGAN in capital letters. It was a little pack of Papou’s Falafel. What the hell. Fried falafel seemed like the best option. Treats is a tough room if you’re trying to be good. Which, I suppose, is why it’s called Treats. Yes. Of course.


not vegan


not vegan


not vegan


not vegan

photo 5I brought the frozen falafel home, tossed those little nuggets into a bit of oil, fried them up, put them on an arugula salad with tomatoes and carrots, and nearly passed out from happiness. I’m not even kidding you. They trump any other falafel I have ever eaten. Hell, they trump any other hangover food I’ve ever eaten. And, all ingredients are identifiable:

  • chickpeas
  • onions
  • unbleached wheat flour (He’s coming out with a gluten-free option soon, you GF’ers.)
  • corn
  • jalapenos
  • parsley
  • garlic
  • sesame seeds (Unrelated: I found a tick on my arm last night. I got a full day’s worth of exercise, twitching around the house and shuddering, before I realized it was a toasted sesame.)
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • spices
  • cilantro (The devil’s herb, but completely palatable in these.)

Since that day, I’ve seen Papou’s Falafel at various places, like Whole Foods in Portland. I think I’ve seen them at Royal River Natural Foods and Bow Street Market in Freeport. Bath Natural Food Market carries them for sure.

As an aside, most of these places also carry emergency vegan lunches and snacks, like Chow Maine vegan pad thai and tofu/rice pockets, which admittedly sound disgusting. But, I assure you, they aren’t. I eat Chow Maine to-go items all the time when I’m in a rush and forgot to pack my cooler of fruit and such. I promise. If you see them, don’t be scared.

Back to Papou. Oh Papou! Such delicious goodness. I want this company to thrive so I will always have this falafel available.

And, check this out. Say you’re running out the door and need a quick lunch. Papou makes Falafel Toasties! You toss them in the toaster oven or in the oven for a bit, wrap them in a pita with some lettuce and whatever condiment you have available, and voila.

Dinner is served.


Oh, Papou!


Flaxseed pita with homemade fat-free tzatziki and guacamole, baby spinach, a little carrot, a smear of hummus and honey-sweetened tahini, and a whole lot of Thank You Papou!

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Sarah Devlin

About Sarah Devlin

Sarah Devlin has been writing about the recreational industry since the late ’90s but ironically can’t run, swim, or bike a mile.