SLICE AND DICE: Robee's Falafel is a shawarma hub in San Jose.
I have a challenge for you: look up “shawarma” on Twitter right now and see if the results ever stop refreshing for more than a full minute (my best time: 34 new tweets in 20 seconds). Considering the pace at which Twitter-fueled trends come and go these days, by the time this goes to print, the shawarma scene may be a very different one. But as I’m sure many of you are already aware, at this time two weeks ago the world was crazy for shawarma, a Middle Eastern street food that in the States is found mostly in specialty restaurants.
Shawarma is a method of preparing meat on a spit, similar to the way the more familiar Greek gyro is made. In Middle Eastern countries, shawarma is held in similar regard to the food cart, though perhaps not with the same disdain some might project onto sidewalk food vendorsâ€”shawarma’s a food of the locals; a quick lunch for when you’re on your way somewhere else.
It’s suddenly in high demand for one reason: Robert Downey Jr. One brief mention (now reported to be an ad-lib) of shawarma at the very end of The Avengers, and the social networks lit up with posts about shawarma, as if it never existed until Iron Man spoke of it. Reports have already surfaced that in L.A. alone, shawarma sales jumped an estimated 80 percent less than a week after the film’s debut, thanks almost solely to the deluge of hashtags and check-ins it inspired.
Fortunately, South Bay citizens shall never want for shawarma. Thanks to a range of Middle Eastern restaurants in San Jose that have been offering the staple street food since long before it was cool, there’s likely a place to try it in your neighborhood.