The Humble Shawarma
Looking back at my life, I have only written 3 letters. One was an overly sappy love letter to an ex that I’m pretty sure was thrown away as soon as she got it. The other was one from “my parents” to the school excusing me from band because I was horrible at it. And the last one was a strongly worded letter to Kinder for changing the toys in the Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs. This letter shall be added to my portfolio of fascinating literary works and this letter is an ode to the humble Shawarma.
This is how Wikipedia describes the Shawarma. “Shawarma (Arabic: شاورما) also spelled shawurma or shawerma, is a Levantine meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Shawarma can be served on a plate (generally with accompaniments), or as a sandwich or wrap. Shawarma is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips, and amba.”
“Though grilling meat on a skewer has ancient roots in the Eastern Mediterranean with evidence from the Mycenaean Greek and Minoan periods, grilling a vertical spit of stacked meat slices and cutting it off as it cooks was developed in the 19th century in Ottoman Bursa (modern Bursa, Turkey) by a cook named Hadji Iskender;  this is döner kebab, which is the origin of shawarma, Mexican tacos al pastor, and Greek gyros.”
As an avid eater of Shawarma, I have done it all. I have travelled extensively across the Middle East and I can proudly say, I have tried Shawarma in every Middle Eastern country. From the bustling city of Riyadh to the sleepy streets of Ras Al Khaimah, and from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Abu Dhabi to the tranquility that is Salalah, Oman, wherever there was “Shawarma” on the menu, I’ve eaten it (More than one on numerous occasions).
For me, the chicken Shawarma is the perfect standalone test to determine the quality of the food. A chicken Shawarma with Tahini, pickles and shredded lettuce can be used to assess all the defining qualities of a shawarma. These defining qualities include the smell (it has to have a roasted chicken smell), the thickness of the bread (Too thick and it takes away from the taste of the chicken, too thin and it falls apart. It has to be in that perfect middle ground), the tanginess of the Tahini (An important one. The tahini used has to be the right mixture of creamy and tangy) and lastly the mmmm factor ( The mmmm factor is the number of satisfied mmmm’s to each bite. The more mmmm’s per bite, the better the overall experience of the Shawarma.
There are only a few ways a man can show love to food without being arrested or dumped by his significant other. That is why, I dedicate this to all the men all over the Middle East who strive and sweat (literally) every day to make sure the humble shawarma is around for the next 40 generations.