Shawarma Shame

There’s this little Israeli restaurant in my neighborhood that has become a part of life for me out in Park Slope. Birthdays, deep discussions, parental visits, all have happened under their roof – my Mom and I were once trapped there for two hours because a sudden torrential downpour had tied up every taxi in Brooklyn. They were very understanding, and brought us more mint tea than we could have asked for.

A couple of years ago I was working from home, late on a Monday night, with no end in sight. One of those head-bashing-the-keyboard days, tucked away in our apartment’s tiny office. My roommate heard my laments of despair from the kitchen, and made her own version of one of their best dishes, a kind of hummus-chickpea-jalapeno-mushroom-pita thing, set out in several tiny bowls and brought it all in on a tray with a flower to cheer me up. I could have kissed her (in fact I think I did).

Seriously, doesn't this look delicious?

So to keep that tradition alive, this weekend I tried making their chicken shawarma, which deliciously includes some sort of cilantro sauce, another sauce that I believe is apple & curry based, grilled tomatoes, wilted spinach… the list goes on. Anyway, after looking high and low for a recipe I discovered to my despair that their cook is just a genius and his interpretation exists nowhere on the interwebs. Nowhere! How is that even possible in this day and age?!

Much perturbed, I determined to strike forth and make my own. “No silly little lack of recipe is going to stop me!” I cried, earning several suspicious looks from the grocery store clerks.

Now, the problem with that kind of a declaration is that it has a tendency to curse you. You’re just inviting Fate to dump a bucket of fail all over your head to teach you a little lesson in what the Greeks called hubris.

Basically, I don’t want to discuss the ensuing results. It was edible, if dry where it should have been moist, and chewy where it should have been dry, with a strange dirt-like flavor that was unidentifiable. Let’s just say that, while I’m charming and lively dinner company, when it comes to actually preparing said dinner it might be best for me to stick to what I know.

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