What is Shawarma?
Shawarma in "The Avengers"
Shawarma sales skyrocket!
It seems that The Avengers movie may have done for Los Angeles area shawarma sales what the 1982 blockbuster, E.T., did for Reese's Pieces.
While it's been estimated that the sales of Reese's Pieces increased anywhere from 65% to tripling after the release of the E.T., Los Angeles area shawarma restaurants are reporting at least an 80% increase in this middle eastern fare the opening weekend of The Avengers. (See: Shawarma Sales Skyrocket in L.A.)
It seems that it is not necessarily the scene in The Avengers where Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) asks Captain America if he has ever tried shawarma that is creating this shawarma-eating sensation.
Rather, interestingly enough, it is the post-credits clip of the actors still in costume, enjoying shawarma at an unnamed area restaurant that has caused the frenzy.
What exactly is shawarma?
Shawarma is an Arab method for cooking meat. Meats such as chicken, lamb, beef, and sometimes goat are placed on a vertical spit that slowly turns. In fact the Arabic word shawarma is derived from the Turkish word cevirme which means to turn.
Slices of fat and seasoned or marinated meats are layered on the spit and the meat slowly cooks through the heat from the center cone throughout the day. With a large knife or other tool, meat shavings are removed from top-to-bottom and collected in a tray below. An onion, lemon or tomato may be added to the top of the skewer for additional flavor.
Shawarma being sliced and served in a pita
Middle Eastern fast food
Move over McDonald's...Shawarma served in a hot pita makes the perfect fast food. In middle eastern countries shawarma is often prepared and served outdoors. The tall towers of meat and shawarma cutters in their full chef's garb make these outdoor vendors easy to spot.
Toppings may include:
- pickled onions and turnips
Shawarmas also are served with a sauce like garlic, parsley or chili; or tahini or hummus.
This flavorful meaty middle eastern food varies in flavor and texture depending on the country or maybe even the particular city or neighborhood. This thinly sliced meat and toppings may be served inside a pita or rolled in a pita or other type of flat bread similar to a tortilla. Some people think of it as a middle eastern taco or Arab taco.
Shawarma vs. Gyro
Shawarmas are often confused with the Greek gyro. While there are similarities between the two foods, they are in fact different. The meat used for a gyro is also cooked slowly on a turning spit. (Gyro is greek for go around.)
So what's the difference between shawarma and gyro? The seasoning of the meats and the type of bread used are the main differences between a gyro and a shawarma.
Gyros are made using a thick, pocket-less pita. Whereas, the meat and toppings for a shawarma are put inside the pita bread pocket and then it is rolled and pressed flat. A shawarma is usually wrapped in foil or wax paper so the juices don't drip out.
Best shawarma in the world
Check out gomideast.com to see readers' responses on where to find the best shawarma in the world.
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