Day 134: Desperately Seeking Shawarma
I eat sandos. It’s a thing I do. Read about it. I write about it all the time. My love for the sandwhichial arts runs almost as deep as my love for my wife, baseball, freedom and cleaning my ears. But it isn’t always fun and games. Everybody expects me to go out there every day and eat whatever sando my enlarged heart desires. That’s not the case. In all of my conquests, there’s one sando that I’ve always been missing. The One That Got Away. It never came up on my Seamless searches and I can still taste it as I wander the lonely streets at night. No, it’s not a Dagwood, the infamous white whale of the Sando World. I’m talking about the Chicken Shawarma Pita.
I know what you’re thinking, because I’m totally clairvoyant. You’re either thinking, “Coze, Shawarma is everywhere! Why do you miss it?” or “Coze, what the fuck is a Shawarma? You just made that up”. To the former thinkers, I say, don’t take your proximity to Shawarma for granted. A time is going to come where you’re nowhere near a Shawarma Man and it’s going to make you big time sad. To the latter, I say, Shawarma is…uhh…Shawarma. It’s chicken thigh meat with like, umm, Shawarma stuff on it. It’s not quite spicy, it’s not quite curry, it’s just…flavor chicken? There it is. Shawarma is chicken with flavor. Accept no substitutes.
Back in college, I would eat Shawarma every day. This is not an exaggeration. I worked at a Mediterranean/middle eastern restaurant. After I got sick of gyros, Shawarma became my free meal of choice. I would sometimes eat it twice a day. To me, it was the only food that mattered, because it was both delicious and free. You just can’t get any better than that. Even after I stopped working at Mr Gyros, I would still go out of my way to get my monthly Shawarma fix. I could never imagine a life without it because it was all I knew. I figured that wherever I went in life, Shawarma would come with me.
As you know, I moved to New York City. The melting apple. The big pot. I had spent 5 years eating Midwestern Shawarma, I was confident that whatever Shawarma awaited me there was going to rock the socks off my ass. After all, the self-proclaimed Best City In The World surely must have the best sandos. On my initial journeys, I saw a plethora of halal carts, all with flavorful smells. But to my dismay, none of them had Shawarma. Just a thing called, “Chicken Pita”. I tried Chicken Pita from a few carts. One tasted close, but the others paled in comparison to what I was used to. This was close to Shawarma, but it wasn’t quite right.
I carried on my Shawarma-less existence for close to a decade. I would speak praises of it to my co-workers, but they all assumed that I made the word up. I would sometimes see it advertised at a cart, but the sign would always be decrepit, mis-spelled and the dude would have no idea what I’m talking about. Maybe it was all in my head. Maybe it never really existed. For years, any time I saw the word, I thought it was a joke. I grew to accept that Shawarma doesn’t really exist and I’m a better man for it.
Fast forward to a week ago. New neighborhood, new Coze. I was walking back from the new pharmacy and an awning caught my eye. It said “King of Falafel and Shawarama: ‘Yeahhhhhbaby’ since 2002”. And that was my immediate mental reaction. Yeahhhhhbaby. Shawarma is real! And it’s right next to my house! It’s official. Anything is possible in life. Anything! Don’t let anybody ever tell you otherwise. Next time you’re down for the count and you don’t think you have it in you to carry on, just remember, Coze found Shawarma. And you’ll be okay.
I had the chance to sink my teeth into one of their fine pitas today. And jesus fucking christ was it glorious. All of the flavors were still there. All of the lost feelings. It was 2007 all over again. I was ready to take on the world, smoke a bowl, rent some Criterions from the library and play Guitar Hero. The world is vast and full of possibilities. I know this, now that I’ve been reunited with my long lost Shawarma.