Gyros: The Most Popular Greek Fast Food
I recently went to the stand-up show of Gabriel Iglesias, the Mexican comedian known as Fluffy!
He told a story, about going to a stand that he thought sold tacos, and started speaking Spanish to the owner that he assumed was Mexican. The man got furious, and said that he could not understand what Gabriel was saying, because he was Greek!
-Oh I am sorry sir. I didn’t realize. I would just like a taco please.
The man got even more furious
-I don’t sell tacos! I sell gyro!!!!
-You sell what?
-Ok, I got the name, but what is that gyro thing?
The man thought for a bit.
-It’s like a taco…
You just can’t visit Greece and not go for a gyros pita, the “Greek taco”! You might see it as gyros, because the word follows the spelling of the Greek word γύρος, but you pronounce it yeeros. Still confused about its pronunciation? Don’t worry, many people are. Check out this post to learn how to say it.
What is a gyros?
Gyros is meat grilled on a vertical rotisserie, similar to the Doner kebab. It is then sliced and served wrapped or stuffed in pita bread, along with other ingredients such as tomato, onion, fried potatoes, and -of course- tzatziki sauce. In Greece, it is normally made of pork or chicken.
The history of Gyros
Grilling a vertical spit of stacked meat and slicing it off as it cooks was developed in Bursa in the 19th century in the Ottoman Empire, and was called doner kebab (Turkish: döner kebap). In the early 20th century, doner kebab made of lamb was introduced in Athens by immigrants from Anatolia and the Middle East, possibly after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1922. In Greece, it took today’s form during the Greek junta period (1967–1974), as mince meat was prohibited due to a rotten batch that was imported from abroad. So, although they have the same origin, nowadays gyros and kebab are two very different things.
Tips for eating the best gyros
From my experience as a gyros eater and food photographer, I have the following tips for you:
If you want to eat the best gyros you have to go to a souvlaki place and not a restaurant. You might see it as “souvlaki” or “sandwich”, depending on the place you are at the moment. But if you just ask for a “gyros” or “pita gyros”, no one will be confused and you will get the right stuff! Remember to pronounce it yee-ros!
Avoid the central, famous touristy gyros places. Talk to the locals, ask them where to go, and seek the small, neighborhood souvlaki places.
Γύρος: Το πιο δημοφιλές ελληνικό φαστ φουντ
I was born in Athens, in 1982. I've loved cooking since I was a small kid, and photography since I was a teenager. In 2018, I decided to combine these passions and now I am really glad and proud to be a Professional Food Photographer. At the same time, I like to consider myself a cook, and a food enthusiast! Join me, and let's explore together the magical world of taste and food presentation!