Friday, March 25, 2011

Stuff Arabs like #11: Shawarma

To anyone who's visited the Middle East--or even a city with a large Arab population, this declaration comes as no surprise. Many non-Arabs have discovered the wonders of the shawarma, in all its forms.

Whether it's mistakenly being called a gyro and presented in a half piece of pita bread, oozing with cucumber sauce and tabouleh...

Or if it's served up pseudo-taco style in a cradle of soft bread with tahini sauce, pickled vegetables and a smattering of parsley....

Or dished out on a platter with an iceberg lettuce salad and some hummus...

Or my favorite--and the most commonly found in Saudi Arabia--rolled up in a grilled tortilla-like waif of bread, slathered in oil and a pasted wonderful cream cheese-like smear--veggies and hot sauce optional--shawarma is an Arab delight.

No matter how it's served up, shawarma is an Arab delicacy that everyone should enjoy at least once in their lives. On any block in Saudi Arabia you'll find several shawarma shops, all with their own unique way of making the wrap. Each has its own combination of fresh and pickled vegetables, a cream-based sauce of some sort, and lots of fantastic Middle Eastern spices. You know a shawarma shop from its telltale rotating log-o-meat:

Be it beef, lamb, or chicken, you know you've stumbled into shawarma heaven when you see this jumbled collection of spiced, processed meat rotating vertically in front of a pair of heat lamps. Once the shawarma guy fires up his electric knife and shaves away slivers of the juicy goodness, you know you've hit the jackpot.

I've got to give it to you, Arabs, this is one of your more ingenious creations.

Vicariously yours,


  1. Armenian food is very schwarma-like. They have this "not a pita...but not a tortilla either" bread...and its ridiculous degrees of yum.

  2. you are so beautiful :) welcome to arabia
    ARAB Man