Thursday 11 October 2012

The Curious Case of The Chicken Shawarma

The man wields a large blade, slicing off pounds of flesh that sizzle as they fall to the metallic surface below. He uses the same machete-like blade to dice the chunks of meat into smaller pieces. I look on in slight awe wondering whether this man in the white butcher’s hat used to cut up michopo before this gig. Those guys are almost as precise as surgeons when they cut up their goat meat.  I’m looking at the shreds of chicken and I’m secretly hoping he doesn’t use the burnt, crusty parts to make my Chicken Shawarma.
My mouth becomes a floodgate of saliva when the man hands me my food. I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into it and have its mysterious ingredients perform their wondrous rain dance on my taste buds. I’m at ‘Buy Rite Fast Foods’ (or something like that!) and as I devour this marvel of fast food I can’t help but wonder how many Shawarma grills or spits have mushroomed in our fair Lusaka City. The other day I saw one set up right outside our neighbour’s container (from which they sell a number of necessities and small groceries). It’s a little dusty where I live, but I can totally understand our neighbours’ gamble on a ‘Shawarma Making Machine’ in a neighbourhood like ours, for you see; they are everywhere! Chicken Shawarma stands are viciously fighting for corner spots the same way airtime voucher suppliers shoulder shrugged one another for these strategically located spaces a few years ago. From Chilenje to Avondale; from Northmead to Woodlands; Shawarma spits have emerged rapidly at fast food joints big and small; standing proud like sentinels guarding something! But guarding what? I’m convinced that these scrumptious wraps and sandwiches are part of a global domination scheme! I mean, even Iron man decided to celebrate his team’s victory in Marvel’s The Avengers movie by going out to eat Shawarmas! They are that damn good! But just where did these tasty treats spawn from?

“Shawarma (Arabic: شاورما‎) is a Levantine Arab[1][2] meat preparation, where lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Although it can be served in shavings on a plate (generally with accompaniments),shawarma also refers to a pita bread sandwich or wrap made with shawarma meat.”- Wikipedia 

The Shawarma has Arabic roots (I wouldn’t be too surprised if they actually grew from a mystic tree!) and its preparation can vary slightly. It comes in the guise of fast food, cloaking itself as a sandwich wrap with pita bread or rolled up in an Armenian Lavash flatbread mingling with vegetables and different dressing. A variety of vegetables come with the Shawarma including cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplant, pickled gherkins, and cabbage. This “Trojan Horse” usually contains chips or fries and together these ingredients create a marvellous symphony of taste that can be almost orgasmic!

Now you are probably thinking, “This guy is crazy! Global domination schemes and Trojan Horses!? Who would want to take over the world with Chicken Shawarmas?!”, But I ask you this-Who wouldn’t?! Who wouldn’t want to infiltrate a consumerist society such as our own using food? After all, it is said, the way to a man’s stomach is through his...errm....wait, that’s not right!...The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! Yes! Whoever is pulling the strings behind this very elaborate operation has a plan to keep us hooked on this chicken flavoured goodness and then when we cannot do without them, they will snatch them from right under our noses and hold them for ransom! It may sound delusional, but that is what they thought about Nelson Mandela right before he discovered independence in Africa! The Taco, cousin to the Shawarma, has also been on a similar path of conquest in the Americas.

I believe that whoever is behind this is trying to fatten the masses, get them nice and plump. Then when the scores of people reach scale tipping levels of obesity, and they are heavy enough; they will begin to charge them a form of Gravity tax. This tax would be directly proportionate to the gravitational pull exerted on individuals and probably calculated using complex formulae that will be so ridiculous they will be believable! And it’s not that farfetched, it could be based on the same concepts and principles as charging corporate companies for their CO2 emissions. Scientists claim that there is a hole in the ozone and that companies should reduce their carbon footprint! Bah! Humbug! There is no hole in the sky ya Chicken Littles! The sky is not falling! That’s just insane!

So the next time you wolf down a chicken Shawarma, think long and hard about it. Because as I wolf down mine at ‘Buy Rite’, I can’t help but think about this diabolical plot! I can’t help but feel a burning sensation in my gut, a fire urge to rise up and inform my unsuspecting countrymen! To shout at the top of my voice and warn the poor people at this restaurant of the sweet poison of the Shawarma! But instead, I fork out a ten pin from my wallet and order another one. I guess that sensation in my tummy was just hunger...


  1. its totally believable that the fatter the nation becomes the more likely we are to have a gravity charge introduced but to blame it on the shawarma? those good, tasty innocent little wraps? how dare you!! the real cause is probably chicken and chips. Zambians love their chicken and chips. i almost got mugged for my chicken and chips in a chicken and chips restaurant.
    shawarmas are awesome therefore iron man is awesome too, not the other way around. im currently in search of the best shawarma in zambia. many leave much to be desired

  2. Lol! Looks like you have been a victim of the shawarma frend! I've been told the best ones are at Woodlands Shopping centre, from Nadia's. Or in Kabulonga inside Tunkana (or something like that) mall.
    Thanks for reading though!

  3. Oh sharwarmas how I miss thee.. maan I'm home sick..

  4. That's a shame! I'm sure there MUST be a shawarma joint somewhere near you!

  5. Now I want a shawarma! And oh yeah, I'm almost believing your conspiracy theories. LMAO! Gravity Tax. Oh la la. That would make an awesome movie.

  6. BELIEVE! A lot of truth is said in jest lol! Thank you very much for reading though,I appreciate it :)

  7. Hilarious bt interesting read

  8. Woodlands used to be the best when they started but of late they standards have gone down.I dont know if its because of management or is it that they have made their money. They have reduced the chicken in the sharwamaz and increased in the fries(chips). The size has become smaller as compared when we had Mr Jospeph making them.I would advise anyone to try Castle along kafue road..there veterans

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, I'll try them out! I still enjoy Nadia's though :)

  9. haha i'm yet to come across a Sharwama spot in Jozi