Gyros are always a popular choice when it comes to Greek food. You probably often think of how delicious they are, but have you ever thought of their history?
While the idea of roasting pieces of meat on a rotating spit have roots which are thought to date back to ancient times, the modern gyro made its way from Greece to North America in the 1960s and was initially served at small restaurants in Chicago. As the Greek community grew in Chicago, there were a few contenders who claimed that they were the first to make gyros a fast-food choice. Whoever was responsible for it, the tasty trend eventually took off in the 1970s.
So what is a gyro?
Gyros are essentially wraps made with beef, pork, chicken or lamb that is roasted with an array of herbs and spices. The traditional gyro can be made from distinct pieces of meat packed together on the rotating spit, or with slices from a uniform loaf of ground spiced meat, all wrapped in flatbread or pita.
The word gyro comes from the Greek “turning” which refers to the meat that is slowly cooked on a turning vertical rotisserie. In Turkish, döner refers to the same thing, and shawarma is a derivative of the Turkish word çevirme which means “something that is spun or turned over.”
All those different words essentially mean the same thing (to turn), and what separates them in the modern context has more to do with the details than the overall idea. The gyro can be thought of as a Greek style wrap, and is usually served on a flatbread with toppings such as fresh tomatoes, onions, and a generous dollop of Tzatziki. They are also typically served with large-cut fries inserted in the wrap (also called Athens-style).
The great thing about gyros is they are quick to assemble and are appealing not only because of their reputation for being utterly delicious but also because they can be eaten on the go. In the end, the gyro is a perfect fast-food alternative – however you slice it.