Let’s get right to it, a Gyro ain’t Greek! We love Gyros. Julie could live on vertically grilled lamb wrapped in a pita or lavash, stuffed with veggies and some tadziki or tahini. Visit any Mediterranean place in the USA and you can have a Gyro. But don’t ask for this in Greece.
It took us a week to figure it out. Frankly, we didn’t see it, and we didn’t ask. We’d look on menus and signs, but nada, zilch, nunca. So we started to get curious and asked our hotelier. “What is this thing we call Gyro? You know, pita sandwich, lamb, cucumbers?”. Hotelier: “Oh, lamb? You mean Souvlaki!”
Close, but not quite. Today we finally figured it out. Well, sort of. We went to a Souvlaki restaurant. I quickly learned that Souvlaki is a generic term for lamb, often skewered like a kebab. Very popular in Greece with restaurants dedicated to the cause. But not a Gyro. Still, we were close.
And there on the menu we found it. Well, sort of. “Pita, chicken, giro”, “Pita, pork, giro”. Chicken? Pork? Julie wasn’t having it: “I would like the Pita, lamb, giro”. Waiter: “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no” (said like Zohan). “Souvlaki lamb is too big to fit on pita. Only pork or chicken”. Sure enough I confirmed the vertical rotisserie had only pork and chicken. Lamb was for grilling – you know, Souvlaki. Kebabs. So, we ordered the Pita, one-of-each, giro.
Damn good eats (see pic). Pork was moist, flavorful and included tadziki, fried potatoes, tomatoes on a grilled pita. Chicken was also flavorful, but no tadziki and less exotic. We both had only one, even though our waiter emasculated us for not eating two. They were only 2 euros each. This was as close as we’re gonna get to a Gyro.
Turns out that a Gyro is an American invention by a guy named Papa George. You can read an article about him, admittedly by his own company, here. If this stuff really interested you, like me, you can read the Gyro wiki HERE, which ascribes a relationship to Middle Eastern Shewarma and Turkish döner kebab.
There’s nothing wrong with inventing new stuff that’s kinda like an old-country dish. I can’t tell you when I ever saw spaghetti and meatballs in Italy. Sure, you can get polpette of various types and they certainly love their pasta, but to combine them – nah.
So, Americans, be proud and go eat some Gyro for me! I’ll happy continue with the pork and chicken pita or a lamb kebab until I get home. When I return, we’ll continue to enjoy our Gyros, for their own merits, and be content that the record is set straight.
Ed: (Don’t you just love how this whole post contradicts my post about bastardizing Greek salads? But Gyros are actually good, right?)