This post is almost a year late. I first thought of starting this blog only to write this post.
On my last Holiday in Syria I went to eat shawerma with Mazen one of my best friends. He told me that Abo Fayyad the (almost historic figure) famous shawerma chef is working in a new shop in Mazzeh, Sheikh Saad, and they are selling shawerma sandwiches the old way.
We went there and to my great surprise it wasn't Abo Fayyad standing in front of the spit. It was his brother Abo Hisham. When I was in high school and all the way through Medical school I had hundreds if not over a thousand of sandwiches (I promise you I am not exaggerating) made by Abo Hisham. Although the two men made almost an identical sandwich it was only Abo Hisham for me, may be because of his pleasant personality and the fact he always called me "Doctor".
The shawrema sandwich those guys made looked like the primitive ancestor of the shawerma you can buy today in Damascus. It was bigger, the bread was thicker and the sauce was so runny they needed to put the sandwich in a tiny plastic bag so you don't end up with fat and sauce all over your cloths. It was delicious, nevertheless. The sandwich was the norm at that time. All the shops in Sheikh Saad (the shawerma destination in Damascus at the time) sold it to thousands of happy punters every evening till the early hours of the morning.
This sandwich is all but extinct now. It was replaced by the Medan (the current shawerma destination joint with Al-Qusoor Sq.) model. The thick bread from government run bakery has been replaced with much thinner "touristic" bread wrapped in another paper-thin-crisp-as-you-like Saj bread. The runny sauce is all gone and here comes stronger tasting garlic mayo sauce. The sandwich is more sophisticated and way better looking so it was only a matter of time till this format took over.
The cause of my beloved older shawerma version was not helped by the development of the Sheikh Saad area and the difficult nature of Abo Fayyad. After the two brothers moved from their original shops they never settled. It was a matter of few months before either the shop being knocked down or Abo Fayyad breaking up with his business partner.
As you can tell, shawerma had a great place in my heart (and a huge impact on my waist line). It was fantastic to eat a sandwich made be Abo Hisham exactly as it was ten years ago.