March 31, 2009

Shawarma: A taste of pure Israel

At Manah va-Khetzi [Hebrew: portion-and-a-half], loyal patrons join a fast-moving line to order shawarma, the house specialty, with trimmings of their choice — served with signature local hospitality and blaring radio.

Manah va-Khetzi is sandwiched among small low-cost fast-food shops on Yohanan Ben Zakai Street, on the edge of Jerusalem's southwest Katamonim (neighborhoods built in the 1950s for Jews who made aliya [ascension] to Israel from Arab countries and Iran).

My friends Judith and Jeff drove us straight to the kosher certified eating place after we left the joyous, deeply moving 90th birthday celebration for Rabbi Jack J. Cohen at its conclusion. They were hungry (at 11 PM!) for a taste of pure Israel, for better or for worse — shawarma.

I had no desire for food of any kind at that hour. Yet I quickly developed a hearty appetite to capture the scene, and aimed my camera at the black and red decor, brown and red meat, and mostly silent eaters exchanging token words on selections, condiments, and payment.

A perfect ending to a perfect evening.

Watch the video (2:33 minutes).


Jeff Green said...

You caught the atmosphere of the place!

Madeline said...

Oh I want a gyro now, so badly! I love when your purple beret suddenly appears in the mirror for a second.

littlepurplecow said...

My favorite part... catching a glimpse of you in the mirror and hearing your laugh! Miss you.

Leah said...

I stumbled onto your shawarma video. I got all excited, thinking I'd get a recipe out of it (you'd never know I've pretty much stopped cooking). Although there was no recipe, I was charmed by the video. And what a good looking sandwich man!

Chuck said...

Hi Tamar, I saw you hiding under that hat. The sandwich was like a little pita pocket kebab, how wonderful. I've not seen anything like that in the shops here. I've seen regular kebabs in the Turkish and Leb shops, but haven't seen anything like the pocket bread sandwiches. I know the Leb bread can be cut in a half circle and make a pocket, but the sandwich in your video is much smaller and still retains is roundness.

Tamar Orvell said...

Leah — I agree that Sandwich Man is good looking. I noticed his looks immediately (while my pals were choosing toppings for their orders!), and thought he was Arab (dark, aquiline nose) then reconsidered because it is a kosher place and perhaps the owner or clientele (not my friends!) wouldn't want being with an Arab. Crazy, dumb, and wrong yet possible. Then, I guessed that he was Italian (visions of hunks like Vittorio De Sica and Marcello Mastroianni came to mind!). So when I asked him whether he was Italian, he laughed and said his parents were from Kurdistan! I once rode a city bus in Tel Aviv with a driver equally good looking. I said (in Israel this passes for normal), You are so handsome; where are you from? His answer was the same as Sandwich Man's. Maybe I should move to Kurdistan.