Guess what they call the pita bread with turkey meat
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Guess what they call the pita bread with turkey meat

A McShwarma.

This line is, of course, from an Israeli McDonald’s commercial from a few years back parodying a scene from Pulp Fiction. The commercial introduced the new McShwarma sandwich, which did not last very long from what I can tell. I was in Israel less than a year after this came out and talking to my tour guide. He said you go to McDonald’s for hamburgers, if you want shwarma you go to a shwarma shop. Truer words were never spoken.

So why is The Big Lipowsky going on about shwarma?

Because shwarma has now been added to the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, which defines it as:

Shawarma (1953): a sandwich esp. of sliced lamb or chicken, vegetables, and often tahini wrapped in pita bread.

The 1953 refers to the year dictionary editors first found the term referenced in an English-language publication. I wonder if that publication was about Israel? No mention in the definition of shwarma’s origins. Of course, shwarma was not invented in Israel, but like many other things, Israelis perfected it.

As a kosher connoisseur, though, I have to say that shwarma – and even falafel – does not top my priority list of foods when I visit Israel. I work in Teaneck where I’m surrounded by Israeli restaurants. I can get shwarma or falafel whenever I want. So what do I get when I go to Israel? Burger King and McDonald’s. I love those flame-broiled Whoppers and chicken nuggets and can eat them now only in Israel (or Argentina, which has the only kosher McDonald’s outside of Israel). And as a former eater of nonkosher meats, I will tell you with certainty that Burger King and McDonald’s taste much better in Israel than they do in the United States. Think it’s just because they’re kosher there? Nope. I have eaten McDonald’s in Japan as well and there too it is far superior to American McDonald’s. But I digress….

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