Happiness is a good shawarma
By Maryam Farag
The Arabic dish called shawarma has been winning the love of Canadians for years, especially in Windsor.
The Lebanese shawarma is a Levantine Arab meat preparation where chicken, turkey, beef, veal, buffalo meat or mixed meats are placed on a spit, and 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 with accompaniments as a sandwich or in a wrap.
It is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus and pickled turnips.
Shawarma is an Arabic rendering of the Turkish cevirme, which is “turning”, and refers to the rotisserie-cooked nature of meat, which turns around an axis. The history of shawarma goes back to Greece and Turkey. It was invented in the 18th or 19th century. Similar naming conventions apply to the Turkish döner and the Greek gyros, both of which reference the turning action of the cooking mechanism.
Shawarma Shack opened in Windsor four and a half years ago on Walker Road. Akeel Moussa, a worker at Shawarma Shack, said people in Windsor love Lebanese food.
“They order almost everything on the menu, chicken, shawarma, sheesh tawook, kofta, kebab, kebbe and grape leaves,” said Moussa.
Not only do those of Arabic descent eat shawarma, but Canadians too.
Moussa estimates approximately 75 per cent of his customers are non-Arab. It is a way of introducing people to middle-eastern dishes they may not be familiar with.
Shawarma is one of the ways that helps non-Arab people to know more about Arab culture.
“People here know that we serve middle-eastern food because our sign says Lebanese food,” said Moussa. “We have a lot of takeout orders too.”
Erika Sebet, a Canadian customer who frequents Shawarma Shack, said she is familiar with Lebanese food.
“I come here weekly, they are my neighbours,” said Sebet. “I always order the fattoush salad and chicken.”
Windsor currently has 14 places that serve shawarma.