Gyros / Shawarma / Döner kebab

AndrasBP

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hello,

It seems that depending on the country, the popular flatbread sandwich with shavings off a rotating meat "tower" is sometimes called "gyros" (from Greek), "shawarma" (from Arabic) or "döner (kebab)" from Turkish.

In Hungary, everyone calls it "gyros" so even Turkish or Arab kebab shop owners tend to use this name. "Döner" is much less popular, while "shawarma" is virtually unknown.
As far as I know, Russians call the dish "шаурма" (shaurmá).

What about your country?
 
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  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Döner" is the best known of the three terms in the UK. "Gyros" is used by Greek-owned establishments. I have not come across "shawarma" in the UK.

    "Döner" and "shoarma" can be found in the Netherlands. I've just been reading an article that claims they are not the same.
     
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    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    That's funny :D Kebab is just a general name.
    Well, I'm not an expert and I may be wrong. I've just seen that the Spanish version of Wikipedia names it döner... but I'd say that wrongly or rightly the average guy/gal calls it kebab (in Spain) but I'm not an expert at all. On the other hand, there are Döner Kebab fast food places named Döner Kebab X. Gyros is basically unknown here and I've just stumbled with shawarma on books talking about restaurants or cuisine from Lebanon.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    As far as I know, Russians call the dish "шаурма" (shaurmá).
    The main terms in Russian are шаурма (shaurmá, through some Turkic intermediate) and шаверма (shavérma, chiefly in St.Petersburg, apparently straight from Levantive Arabic). The term донер (dóner) is also basically known (seems to be coming from European languages, given the phonetic shape).
     
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    Jennifer Weiss

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The term донер (dóner) is also known (seem to be coming from European languages, given the phonetic shape).
    Döner is a Turkish word. Dönmek means "to turn".
    I've always thought "шаверма" is a humorous way of saying "шаурма". What we call "шаурма" sounds very weird to Turks and only Azerbaijanians understand what it means (I assume they have the same word). The Turkish word is "dürüm".
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Döner is a Turkish word.
    Sure, except in Russian it would have more likely produced дене́р (denе́r) or, possibly, дёнер (dyóner). That's why some European intermediate is necessary. The alternative is a purely oral loan from Turkish (where the quality of the consonant would take precedence), which seems unlikely, and I don't even mention the stress.
     

    Rallino

    Moderatoúrkos
    Turkish
    We also have Şavurma resturants in Turkey, but it's not the same as thing as "döner". The meat is the same, but şavurma adds different sauces and I guess French fries in it, which we usually don't put in a döner dürüm (wrap).
     

    Kaoss

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    That's the popular term in Spanish.
    I concur.

    Shawarma used to be more popular many yaers ago when you could only find them at a few lebanese restaurants. But since they popularized Kebab (or Doner) have become the norm.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    "gyros" (from Greek),
    gyros - pronounced many different ways - in the US. I said "djiro" (rather common) until I realized it was supposed to be "yiros". Some people say "djairo", "jairo", "jiro" too and in Philadelphia it's "hero". There may be more. It's also common to reinterpret the -s as a plural and drop it in the singular. In general, it's seen as a foreign food and has not yet adapted into general American culture, so people feel free to say what they want. The first time they see "gyros" it's written on a street sign or a menu.

    "kebab" is the most common word in France in my experience (even though it might be wrong to say that), but "gyros" is also possible and "sandwich grec". What they call it depends on if Turks or Greeks are running the shop, and there are more Turks (except maybe in Paris). They serve it in pita bread with French fries in the sandwich.
     
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    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    gyros - pronounced many different ways - in the US. I said "djiro" (rather common) until I realized it was supposed to be "yiros". Some people say "djairo", "jairo", "jiro" too and in Philadelphia it's "hero". There may be more. It's also common to reinterpret the -s as a plural and drop it in the singular. In general, it's seen as a foreign food and has not yet adapted into general American culture, so people feel free to say what they want. The first time they see "gyros" it's written on a street sign or a menu.

    :confused: But people know how to pronounce "gyroscope" or is it equally "diverse"?
     
    Well, we call it (obviously) «γύρος»[ˈʝi.ɾɔs] (masc.) < Classical adj. «γῡρός» gūrós --> round, curved (PIE *gou̯- hand or *gu(H)- to bend cf Av. gauua- hand, MoP گوشه (gōšā), corner, angle). The rotisserie joint specialised in serving gyros is called «γυράδικο» [ʝiˈɾa.ði.kɔ] (neut.), and the most common word for the wrap sandwich is «πιτόγυρο» [piˈtɔ.ʝi.ɾɔ] (neut.) --> pita (bread) + gyros. I'm unfamiliar with shawarma, but I find it a sacrilige to identify gyros woth döner.
    So, for all you heathens :) out there, the main differences between gyros & döner are:
    1- Gyros is made of well seasoned slices of whole meat skewered in a large vertical stack on the rotisserie; döner usually is minced meat shaped like a cone. I'm not saying one is better than the other, they're just not the same.
    2- Gyros is made of slices of pork from the shoulder or belly, or chicken meat, no lamb, no beef; döner is usually made of mixed minced meat from beef and lamb seasoned exquisitely. Both are veery delicious, yet different.
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Is it "djairoscope"? I don't ever use this word or know what it is. :)
    I checked the image and see what it is. I don't know how I called it.

    Yes, /ˈdʒaɪrəskəʊp/. I don't use the word too often myself, but I have heard it several times.

    I'm sure you use it every day if you have a cell phone. :D
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Really? I've only seen "kebab" in London. But I haven't eaten them there that often.

    Kebab is the word you will see on shop fronts, but once inside the establishment and you look at the fine range of delightful foods available on the menu, you’ll see various types of kebab on offer. The doner kebab is the most sold/eaten though (and by a long way,

    When used in everyday language, the word kebab is usually used to refer to doner kebab, especially when chatting with friends and someone is talking about what they ate after a trip to the pub!

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word döner in Britain, it’s always without the umlaut (we Brits seem put off by such foreign looking things in writing! :D).

    On the rare occasion when I’ve bought one, I’ve always been underwhelmed by (doner) kebabs. And the fries from those sorts of shops are always inferior to proper chips from a chippy!
     

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    Like the Spanish, in Italy we also call that food "kebab". On shop windows you can usually read "döner kebab" or "döner kebap" but Italians would just order "un kebab"="a kebab". Someone who runs a döner kebab shop is a "kebabbaro". "Gyros" and "shawarma" are not commonly known nor understood.
     

    ortadogutercume

    New Member
    turkish
    hello Guys :)
    I am from turkey and I would like to explain that topic.
    If we are talking about Döner, the meat or chicken is placed on a skewer and rotates around itself while cooking. That's why we are calling döner.
    Every country has a different culture so The name is changed to other countries.
     

    momai

    Senior Member
    Ar
    Shawarma is most likely something Syrians tooks from Turks. Nontheless, Syrian Shawarma (or in the levant in general) is made of whole meat (either chicken or lamb) not like Döner from minced meat. It is not filled with salad only French fries and cucumber pickles. Probably the most distinct thing which makes Shawarma tasts as it does is the use of the garlic sauce (toume/mayonez). Syrians call this garlic sauce mayonnaise but it tastes nothing like mayonnaise. :D
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Shawarma is most likely something Syrians tooks from Turks.
    Given the etymon ("çevirme" ~ "spinning"), it seems plausible, although Levantine Arabs (and Syrians in particular) still apparently were the ones who finalized shawarma as we know it (which is supported by the back loan into Turkic languages).
     

    momai

    Senior Member
    Ar
    Given the etymon ("çevirme" ~ "spinning"), it seems plausible, although Levantine Arabs (and Syrians in particular) still apparently were the ones who finalized shawarma as we know it (which is supported by the back loan into Turkic languages).
    This is also possible. To be honest I am not sure. The common story is that Döner/shawarma was invented in Bursa city by someone known by the name Iskandar efendi and a Syrian, Siddeeq al-khabbaz صديق الخباز, worked at his restaurent and brought it to Syria when he came back. His restaurent opened in 1906 as the first shawarma restaurent in Damascus. Here is a picture of him and Here some photos of the restaurent nowdays.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That's clearly good stuff on the spit in Damascus; definitely not minced meat.

    In Turkey, Iskender Efendi of Bursa is credited as the 'inventor' of the Iskender Kebab (sometimes: 'Bursa Kebab'), which is a sort of deluxe döner kebab: the meat is placed on a bed of flatbread and then melted butter and tomato sauce are poured onto it. Yogurt is then spooned onto the edge of the plate. Quite a blow-out (choose a light dessert and not something like ekmek kadayif)!
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Thank you all for your replies.

    What actually prompted me to start this thread was a conversation I overheard in a supermarket here in Budapest. Two young men were talking in Hungarian about going "back home" for the weekend. One of them said "I'll get a nice shaorma as soon as I get off the bus". I asked them where they were from, because everyone says "gyros" in Hungary. They turned out to be Hungarian speakers from Romania, where the Arabic-derived name is the most common (șaorma in Romanian spelling).

    The main terms in Russian are шаурма (shaurmá, through some Turkic intermediate) and шаверма (shavérma, chiefly in St.Petersburg, apparently straight from Levantive Arabic).
    It's interesting that the two versions are stressed differently.

    I'm unfamiliar with shawarma, but I find it a sacrilige to identify gyros woth döner.
    So, for all you heathens :) out there, the main differences between gyros & döner are:
    I understand how you feel :) but from a Hungarian perspective, the differences you describe are not important. The main thing is that the method of preparing "gyros" is completely foreign and exotic, so whatever the details, it's still "gyros".:D
    It's a bit like pizza: whatever topping you use, it's still a pizza.
    Here's a picture I took yesterday: the restaurant chain is called "Döner Kebab" (presumably Turkish-owned), but people are expected to order a "gyros pitában" (= gyros in a pita).:)

    DSCN5014.JPG
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It's interesting that the two versions are stressed differently.
    That merely reflects the stress in the direct sources. Turkic languages tend to have the last syllable stressed, with only few lexical and morphological exceptions. In the Arabic word "shawarma" the stress falls on the penultimate syllable.
     
    So, I just found online the history of Greek gyros:
    -It was brought in Greece in 1924 by the Greco-Armenian Misak Anispikian, who learnt the craft in Alexandria, Egypt.
    -At first he used the traditional shawarma, which did not sell well here, so he later introduced pork gyros with round slices of pork stacked on a vertical spit.
    -Initially the wrap was with Arabic khubz. It was too foreign to the Greeks though, so crisp shavings from the pork gyros were offered in a sandwich with normal bread accompanied with tzatziki sauce, tomato and chips (French fries), which became an instant hit.
    -In 1952 the first Greek pita bakery was founded; the Greek flatbread (pita) is a combination of the Italian chiapata bread and the Turkish pide (the latter was brought in Greece by the Anatolian refugees after the 1923 exchange of populations between Greece & Turkey).
    -In the 1960's the wrap sandwich with pork skewers (shish kebab) rolled in pita bread was introduced, followed by the pita sandwich with chicken skewers in the 1980's
     

    Ihsiin

    Senior Member
    English
    In Britain (or at least in London) it actually depends on the place. In Turkish restaurants it's called 'doner', but in Arabic restaurants it's called 'shawarma', and in Greek establishments it is of course called 'gyros'. In places like Edgware Road, Paddington, Bayswater and Knightsbridge, where Arab outlets predominate, you probably won't find the word 'doner' anywhere.

    In Iraqi Arabic it's called gaṣ, though in Iraqi restaurants in London they tend to default to 'shawarma'. Having said that, I do recall one or two places in London that offered 'Gus Iraqi' on the menu.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    That's funny :D Kebab is just a general name.
    That's like, "What do you call Lord of the Rings in your language?" - We call it "Film." :p
    Interesting to hear. Yet, I am afraid that is the way languages work: words are adopted or borrowed but then lead their own lives, away from the original meaning. I am for sure not Schnitzels nowadays are made of veal...
     

    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    That's the popular term in Spanish.
    Like the Spanish, in Italy we also call that food "kebab". On shop windows you can usually read "döner kebab" or "döner kebap" but Italians would just order "un kebab"="a kebab". Someone who runs a döner kebab shop is a "kebabbaro". "Gyros" and "shawarma" are not commonly known nor understood.
    In France, I would say it is the same as in Spain and Italian; the sign on the shop might read "döner kebab" and it is what we might have heard 10 or 20 years ago, but the common expression nowadays is just "kebab" I would say.
    Le bon kebab: 5 commandements pour le repérer
    Kebab à tous les sauces : comment faire le bon choix ?
    Les meilleurs kebabs de Paris
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    Kebab is the word mostly used in Swedish, I've also seen gyros sometimes, as well as shawarma a few times, but not döner when it's used about the "ready-to-eat" meal you buy. The only time I've seen "döner kenbab" is on boxes in the freezer counter in an oriental grocery shop.
     

    swintok

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    In Canada the dish is written "donair" and pronounced with the accent on the final syllable, as it was introduced by Lebanese immigrants who were mostly French-speaking. When I lived in the UK, my British friends would laugh at my pronunciation and would tease me for trying to make "doner kebab" sound posh.

    The word "gyros" is also known and used. It is particularly common in Toronto, which has a large ethnic Greek population, but is understood throughout English-speaking Canada (not sure about French-speaking Canada, though Montréal also has a large Greek population).
     

    Vojvoda

    Member
    Serbian
    What actually prompted me to start this thread was a conversation I overheard in a supermarket here in Budapest. Two young men were talking in Hungarian about going "back home" for the weekend. One of them said "I'll get a nice shaorma as soon as I get off the bus". I asked them where they were from, because everyone says "gyros" in Hungary. They turned out to be Hungarian speakers from Romania, where the Arabic-derived name is the most common (șaorma in Romanian spelling).
    Romanian sarma ("stuffed cabbage roll") borrowed from Ottoman Turkish صرمه‎ (sarma).
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    In the US, the prevailing word is gyro.
    Whether doner kebab and shawarma are also used depends on the origin of the immigrant population that produces and consumes them. I've seen shawarma along Devon Ave. in Chicago and doner kebab in the East Village (or slightly north of there?) in NYC, among other places, for both of them.
    And now I'm hungry.
     

    clamor

    Senior Member
    French - France
    *In Lebanon Armenian communities, kebab is grilled meat, like the Turkish kebap. Shavërma is popular too.
    *In general, shawarma and döner, dürüm are different (by the kind of bread).
    *In France we generally use kebab, but in Paris many people say grec (Greek). There is a map of the variants on the Français de nos Régions website.
     
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