[Sca-cooks] schwarma/gyro

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Tue Sep 11 21:39:04 PDT 2007

On Sep 11, 2007, at 11:56 PM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Interesting. Perhaps it is a regional thing, or perhaps a matter of
> calling something by the name that most people have come to know
> something by, even if not completely correct, but the gyros I've had
> at Pennsic and Gulf Wars and in the one or two places here in town
> where you can get similar sandwiches have always called them gyros
> and they've been slices of meat, not ground meat. I do remember
> getting some sort of seasoned meatball things, perhaps on a skewer,
> but I don't remember what they were called.

Or it may be simply that the universe isn't really completely  
governed by consistent, unilateral rules, and sometimes things simply  
don't make sense no matter how much we may want them to. ;-)

But seriously, yes, it appears that the primary thing that makes  
gyros gyros is the  vertical rotisserie arrangement. Very frequently,  
if not always, the meat is rather finely ground and formed into a  
large meat-loaf-like mass, roasted on the rotisserie and sliced off  
in thin slices as they brown on the outside, whittling the mass down  
to the spit in the middle. The slices don't much resemble anything  
like a hamburger, if that's your benchmark for ground meat; this is  

I've also seen spurious gyros that aren't gyroed, and are sold  
commercially as a sort of flat, oblong patty of seasoned, ground  
meat, to be cooked on a griddle alongside those thin burgers, bacon,  
grilled cheese, etc. It gets plunked into a pita and called a gyro,  
but it doesn't gyrate, so I call BS -- or possibly shenanigans -- on it.

I guess in the end, there's a range of fidelity in Greek and Greek- 
American renditions of the Turkish original. Schwarma is as I've  
described, and is never ground meat (that would probably have another  
name). Gyros can probably be either, but are probably more often  
ground than stacked and sliced.

And, of course, it may also be that you've been exposed to schwarma  
that someone decided it was simpler, for product recognition  
purposes, to call gyros.

> I also remember one place that used flour tortillas instead of the
> usual flat, puffy bread for their gyros. Maybe at this last Pennsic?
> Not the same thing at all. bah.

There's probably some sort of lavosh-like flatbread in the eastern  
Mediterranean that resembles a flour tortilla. Again, there's a very  
broad range. I agree, though, on the preference for something more  
substantial, both in texture and flavor.


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