Most urban areas have a gyro spot or two, but have you considered how this street food came to be? The gyro, pronounced ‘GHEE-ro,’ is from the Greek word ‘gheereezo,’ meaning ‘to turn.’ Gyros consist of a tapered tower of thin meat, which you rotate on an upright spit. It is traditionally a Greek dish, but it is popular in different parts of the world.
You can make gyros from beef, pork, lamb, or a combination of these. Some versions even have chicken and fish meat added to them. Since you roast the stack upright, the layers combine as the spit heats the meat, making interesting flavor combinations. Once the meat has adequately roasted, the grill person cuts off paper-thin slices to fix in a pita wrap.
In the wrap, the griller adds tomatoes, raw red onions, lettuce, and parsley. He tops it with tzatziki, or Greek yogurt, and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper or paprika. Sometimes, the griller adds fried potatoes to the pita as well. People typically eat this as a snack or street food.
This dish perfect for people on-the-go, but it is filling enough to be a meal. This quick fix has a long and colorful history, though; keep reading to know more about this Mediterranean favorite!
A Short History Of The Gyro
In 1922, thousands of refugees from Asia Minor or present-day Turkey came from Istanbul and Smyrna to Greece. They brought to their new homeland their culture and heritage, including their cuisine. Many of them became merchants, opening small hole-in-the-wall shops selling gyros.
Post-World War II, the dish started to travel west, following the Greeks’ immigration patterns. As a result, shops began popping up in the United States, Australia, and Europe. You can consider gyro spots and stands as the forerunner of today’s fast food because it cooks quickly and is convenient to assemble.
However, this is not the only origin story of the gyro! There are other, more complex theories on how the gyro came to be, and since Greek cuisine is rich in layers of history, there is more to the story than a simple tale of transnational influence.
According to some accounts, the gyro stretches as far back as Alexander the Great’s time, whose soldiers skewered cuts of meat on swordlike blades, roasting these over an open fire.
Gyros: As Popular Now As They Were Then
Besides Greeks and Turkish people, Arabs also have their version of gyros. In Turkey today, they have doner kebab, the counterpart of gyros, and they make it with beef or lamb. Meanwhile, Arabs have shawarma, which they make with goat, beef, lamb, or chicken. In some areas of the Arab world, gyros, doner kebabs, or shawarma does not have tzatziki or yogurt. Instead, they cover it with a dusting of seasoned pistachios.
Where there are Greeks, there is bound to be gyros. This savory street wrap is one of the most popular among tourists, and shops selling gyros have progressed beyond the typical mom-and-pop setup. Today, there are gyro spots in America and online; you can order gyros from the comfort of your home today. Today, in the U.S. and other parts of the world, many people enjoy gyros for their unique and savory taste.
For delectable yet affordable gyros, check out George’s Gyros Spot today. Since 1998, we’ve been serving gyros, burgers, and more in our Chesterfield, IN restaurant, and we take pride in serving the best to our community. Browse our menu and order today, or contact us for inquiries!