This blog will serve as a means to share experiences and lessons learned with friends and family while abroad in the Holy Land. The title was suggested by my friend Charles after I mentioned to him that my employer in Israel, GSE, jokingly referred to me as “The Oracle” in their anticipation of my arrival. I hope the blog can live up to its name.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Here’s to you 5A… The Inaugural Shawarma
I want to dedicate this post to my old roommates in New York, who as I understand it through a large “We Miss Yoel” dinner over the past holiday in my honor. Thanks guys. You are the best roommates a guy could ever ask for.
We arrived at Hashamen at around 6 pm after not having eaten since breakfast in the Dead Sea. It was so on. We ordered 6 Laffas and went to town.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Shawarma process here is a short tutorial:
1.Salty mystery meat usually called “Turkey,” “Dark Meat Chicken” or “Lamb” rotates on long skewers as pieces of fat are melted over the meat from burners that surround the meat.
Cuttin the meat
2.After you choose your meat, you must “choose” your bread. I put this choose in quotes because it is not really a choice – theoretically, you can choose a lafa, a soft delicious round piece of bread that encompasses all that is good in a Shawarma or a pita. Not to knock the official bread of the Middle East, but when you are sitting down for a kilo-calorie feast of fat covered meat, a pita just doesn’t cut it. Pitas are always cheaper because they hold less and are just not meant for Shawarma. Ordering Shawarma in a pita is like bringing a fork to a hot dog eating contest – it just doesn't belong. Now before I rant for too long about pita vs. lafa (again not a contest – its like a male figure skater vs an NFL linebacker – just different purposes), let me get on to step 3.
3.Order the fixings. There are certain go-to things that are put in a Shawarma. You start with choosing hummus, then hot sauce, then chips (French/Freedom fries). I am not sure if it is like the Soup Nazi that you have to start that way, but I have never seen someone ask for chips, charif (hot suace) and hummus – the order always goes “Chummus, kitzat charif, v’chips” (hummus, a little hot sauce and fries) or in my case “b’liy chips” – without chips.
4.We then move onto the salads. There is classic Israeli salad - cucumbers, tomatoes and onions, pickles, cabbage, onions and depending on the place a few others.
5.Then sauces – everyone knows tehina and then there is its lesser known cousin – Amba, a spicy mango sauce that is mad good. If your falafel/Shawarma place does not have Amba, it is likely not legit.
Itay is not pointing at the Amba - its on the bottom left
6.There is also the salad bar which had choices of other classic – mostly pickled – salads and toppings that you can either enjoy on the side or put on top of your Shawarma bite by bite. A good place like Hashamen will let you go to town on the salad bar, realizing that the cost of salad is marginal.
The Residual Grease... Yummy
All in, we ordered 6 Shawarma Laffas and some drings for just over $70 bucks… it was a delicious bargain. We feasted. Here is to me not eating Shawarma every meal since I arrived, contrary to my supportive roommate’s predictions. After writing this, I am going to have to have another soon.