The Mother of Adventure

The art of the shawarma

on November 13, 2013

ShawarmaA good shawarma is a thing of beauty; it is something to be savoured and enjoyed.

If you don’t agree, you have clearly never had a good shawarma, end of story. I am extremely fortunate to live in close vicinity to one of Ottawa’s best shawarma spots – Guava’s Shawarma. It really is second to none, in my experience. Don’t let the rudimentary web site deter you – these boys know what they’re doing.

One of the keys to Guava’s greatness is the garlic sauce; they don’t skimp on the sauce. This is really crucial, as you don’t want your shawarma to be dry. Another special touch that I really enjoy is the wrapping of the shawarma. The boys at Guava’s have this cool way of wrapping your sandwich so that you can carefully tug the top paper off the sandwich while still keeping it neatly wrapped (and your hands clean). Pure brilliance – and not something all shawarma places can replicate.

To me, shawarma is a truly awesome food – usually a lunch – but it’s important to note that it’s not one I want to have too often. You have to pace yourself with shawarma; too often and you’ll ruin the experience.

Shawarma manA shawarma is a sacred treat, and anyone who breeches that is going to be a problem for me. Allow me to explain. A few years back, I had spoken to an acquaintance about getting together for a post-lunch coffee. This was someone I didn’t know well, and we’d never gotten together before; we had only exchanged chit-chat in passing.

She was a bit wishy-washy, and said she would confirm our coffee date. She didn’t. So imagine my utter surprise when my doorbell rang – just as I was about to bite into a large chicken shawarma from Guava’s. Ouch…so far this fledgling friendship was off to a rough start…but it gets worse. Yes, it gets much, much worse.

Once my non-confirming, I’ll-just-show-up-on-your-doorstep acquaintance came in, I explained to her that I hadn’t had lunch and was about to sit down with my husband to have a shawarma. I asked her if she had wanted lunch – or did she want half of my shawarma?

Don't touchNow I should come clean here and just admit – I had no true intention of sharing my shawarma. I was only being polite. I mean, really – would you just show up at someone’s house unannounced and eat half their lunch? Someone that you don’t really know?

Oh, she had just finished having lunch, she assured me. I breathed a quiet sigh of relief. “But…oh, OK, you know what? I will take half of that shawarma,” she said.

Her words stopped me cold. I was caught – caught in my own web of polite pretenses. My husband – who was incredulous himself – hid his face behind his own shawarma so she wouldn’t see him laughing. He caught my eye as I sliced my still-warm shawarma in half; he knew exactly the pain I was feeling.

In my head, I was thinking, “Umm…what was that?? You’ve just had a meal, but now you’re taking half of my precious, mouth-watering shawarma anyway? Just because?? Oh lady…that is so not cool.”

Needless to say, the friendship never quite took off between us. It does, however, make for a funny story to tell whenever the topic of shawarma comes up.

8 responses to “The art of the shawarma

  1. Scott Moffatt says:

    We enjoy Guava’s as well, but for my money, the best garlic sauce in the city (and, not at all coincidentally, the best shawarma) is at the Shawarma Station, Bank @ Hunt Club.

  2. Nobody likes a good shawarma more than I do, but aren’t you finding the proliferation of shops around Ottawa a little bit too much? Ottawa’s becoming one big Shawarma ghetto. I’m especially bitter that one of Ottawa better live music venues, Tucson’s, has been converted into a garish “Shawarma Palace”.

    • There ARE a lot of shawarma places in Ottawa; I suppose that can be attributed to a lot of residents with a middle-eastern background. Personally, it doesn’t bother me at all – I’d rather see independent food establishments thrive – serving something other than the typical pizza or burger chains.

  3. Mike says:

    Your picture of “Shawarma Man” is Obby Khan, former CFLer, in his restaurant in Winnipeg. Totally nowhere near as good as anything in Ottawa!

  4. Oh, FUNNY!! I pulled that pic from a Google search…and chose that one because he was large and hairy which, in my experience, most true ‘shawarma men’ are! 😉

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