Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shawarming the neighbourhood.

A few weeks ago, I explained the theory of fast-food shops in my neighbourhood, which is this:

Business Owner #1 opens shawarma shop. People like shawarma. People go to shawarma shop.

Business Owner #2 (in the making) sees this and forgoes idea to open shoeshine shop/luggage store/umbrella depot/pizza joint/donut diner and instead thinks: Hey, the people like shawarma. I'll open a shawarma place too, right next door, and then people will come to my shawarma place too.

And the people come. Because they do like shawarma.

So then another shawarma place opens. And then another.

Until this happens: In the three weeks I was away, THREE new shawarma places opened. Three.

That's one a week, people.

This morning, I decided to document the first HALF of my 10-minute walk to work, which looks like this:

First up, the Falafel House.

Directly across the street, just opened last week: Also Falafel House. Totally unrelated owners. I guess he just thought it was a good name. (The sign says they've been making homemade food since 1996, so maybe THEY are the original Falafel House. I'm not sure.)

Next up: Halal Place.

Then, The Kabab House.

New to the neighbourhood: Juice Bar + Shawarma place. I'm not sure if this is actually the name, but it's the only sign aside from the picture menu where the typical sign is, which shows that yes, they have shawarma. And juice. Because sometimes you get thirsty eating all that wrapped meat.

Lunch Break. I'm not sure if this means they're only open midday or they just wanted to remind people that shawarma is an option at lunchtime, too.

Then, we have Pizza + Shawarma and a whole bunch of other sort of shawarma-sort of pizza type options, such as Pita Pizzano. Which may be brilliant, for those times when you just can't decide what you really want for dinner.

Then we have Best Shawarma Place. I'm not sure who decides it's the "best", but I like a place with a clean sign and a good amount of self-confidence.

And finally, we have the Wrap & Grab, which just opened where the Timothy's closed. The Timothy's that I supported every Saturday morning and would've supported Sunday mornings but it opened at like 10 am, whereas the Starbucks opened at 7. Anyway, apparently Tim's lattes couldn't compete in the world of shawarma for breakfast.

Some might complain about the number of shawarma places in a five-minute walk on one street but not me. Oh no. Do you know why? Because there is, with all these new shawarma places, a very good possibility that one of them will be offering the newfound NAAN SHAWARMA EXTRAVAGANZA that I experienced in Tours, France.

Here's how it all went down: one day, the Hubs and I are sitting in the square sipping chocolat chauds (that's Francais for hot chocolates) and reading (me: The Accidental; he: Canadian Business magazine), when the Hubs turns to me and says, in a conspiratorially voice: "There's SHAWARMA in this town."

Me: "Really, Joe Hardy?"
He: "Really, Nancy Drew. And I'm have a VERY GOOD feeling it's a VERY GOOD shawarma place."

Apparently, while I'd been reading my book, he'd been watching student after student walk by, ginormous metallic paper-wrapped shawarma in hand. As for how he deduced it was VERY GOOD shawarma was this:

Large proportion of street shwarma being favoured over street crepes (the equivalent of our street hot dogs)


Students (aka poor starving souls who are connoisseurs of good street meat for cheap)


VERY GOOD shawarma.

And so we go off to backtrack where the students are coming from. We follow them around the other side of the square, down a cobblestone alley past the Leonardo Da Vinci "Very Authentic Italian" Restaurant until we discover the source of the metallic-wrapped shawarmas: A one-man shawarma extravaganza machine in a hole in the wall. We step inside and try our best to explain we want what everyone else is eating. We make sweeping gestures with our arms and point at the metallic wrap paper on the counter. He nods, hands us both a cup of sweet tea (perhaps to shut us up), then takes a pat of fresh dough and asks if we would like cheese in it.

CHEESE in our shawarma bread? Was this heaven? Of COURSE we wanted cheese in our shawarma bread, whatever that meant. So then he takes a block of cheese and INSERTS it into the dough, then works the dough into a flat circle, and stick it in the TANDOORI oven beside him, where he bakes the bread for a few minutes, takes it out, and fills it with chicken, tomatoes, lettuce and sauces.

And then you know what he does? He piles it high with freshly-fried FRENCH FRIES, wraps it all up in metallic paper and charges us a mere FIVE EURO for one of the best meals of our trip. Of our lives, perhaps.

I mean, cheese oozing out of warm naan bread with every bite of shawarma you take? And fries on top?

And now, three weeks later, I'm still craving it.

I'm telling you, if even one of these THREE NEW shawarma places in the neighbourhood manages to pull this off, the other six are in serious trouble. Until, of course, they find out and follow suit. And really, for the love of cheese in your shawarma bread, why wouldn't they?


Laural Dawn said...

I have never had Shawarma.
I see the signs, and yet I have never attempted to have it. I don't know why.
But, your Naan Shawarma idea with cheese and fries. That sounds DELISH!!!
Maybe you should open your own store? Just a thought.

vickie said...

I don't know what you've been eating (shawarma?) or drinking (Timothy's?) or smoking (European hair dryers?), but you are on a ROLL with these last three blog posts.

Love them!