CHAT Re: Souvlaki (was most looked-up words)
|From:||Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, December 7, 2004, 19:07|
> > Tristan Mc Leay <conlang@T...> wrote:
> >> As for 'gyros', I think it's normally pronounced /suvla:ki/
> >> hereabouts (and spelt 'souvlaki'), based on the description. Usually
> >> acquired from fish-and-chips shops.
> >Charlie wrote:
> > According to the cookbook "Ethnic Cuisines," souvlaki is the Greek
> > equivalent of the Turkish shish kebab, i.e., meat (and other things)
> > skewered and grilled.
Yes, certainly in my experience: picnic at the homes of Greek friends; meals
in several echt-Greek restaurants in Detroit (big Greek population there);
encounters with gyros in same and at street festivals.
> Souvlaki in my usage are certainly not shish kebabs and satisfy your
> definition of gyros. I'm stunned to discover there's any other meaning.
> And considering how many fish-and-chips shops are run by Greeks, it
> seems at least a little bit odd.
Historically, even in the US, Greek immigrants are noted for the quantity,
if not always the quality, of their restaurants.
The thing about gyros is the nature of the meat: a mixture of beef and lamb
made into a longish loaf thing (I don't know what holds it together,
however); run through longitudinally with a spit and roasted vertically in
(nowadays) an electric oven (it has a red-hot glowing coil like a heater or
hot-plate; not the sort of equipment found in the average home kitchen,
though I suppose you could do it over or next to an open fire, but someone
would have to keep turning the spit).
As the outside cooks, thin slices are removed vertically and put into a
pita, along with chopped tomato, lettuce, yogurt and maybe cucumber.
Delicious but messy. Does that description match your Australian "souvlaki"?
Souvlaki OTOH are simply chunks of meat on a skewer, cooked on a grill,
constantly brushed with a marinade of oil, lemon and spices. It may be that
these too can be served in a pita with condiments; I don't recall.
> Things involving skewers are kebabs, but kebabs can also be
> souvlaki-like things except with Turkish bread rather than pita.
Is there a difference between Turkish bread and pita? I thought pita (no
doubt under local names) was common throughout the eastern Mediterranean.
> > The gyro/gyros/hero is a submarine sandwich. I've seen store
> > marquees announcing that they sell "hero" sandwiches. I've explained
> > to numerous people that that is the Greek pronunciation (more or
> > less) of gyro.
That's my speculation too, i.e. "hero" as a deformed version of "gyro(s)"
>I didn't realize that the word is properly gyros.
Well, it means "spin/turn" and I assume refers to the turning of the spit.
> > presume they are called submarine sandwiches (or simply subs, as in
> > the chain Subway) because of the shape of the roll that's used.
Again, my assumption. I suspect that, like pizza, their popularity with
non-Italian Americans dates mainly from post World-War II. (The idea brought
back by GIs who'd been in Italy-- surely a life-changing experience for your
average Midwestern farm boy). Truth to tell, I'd never heard of them until
college years in Boston (50s)-- where they're also called "grinders"
In New Orleans, "po'boys", in Miami, "Cuban sandwiches".
> Aside from the fact that I wouldn't've thought of describing them as
> sandwiches (sandwiches need normal bread to satisfy my definition)
>I always assumed Subway was so called because it originated in or near a
> subway (presumably in the American sense), and that 'sub' came from
> this. Then when you came up with 'submarine sandwich' just now, it
> looked like it was some sort of play on Subway's subs.
No, it's Subway that doing the play...subs ~submarine sandwiches are way
older. Come to think of it, maybe some folk-etymology going on here: a long
subway car filled with different kinds of people =~ a long bread filled with
goodies. Perhaps we don't think about (naval) submarines as much as we used