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Taste of Saint-Petersburg - Shawarma

Shawarma in Saint-Petersburg is the most popular fast food. This kind of food you can find anywhere you go here. It has its specific taste, which makes it different from any other shawarma in the world.

I know you are going to tell me: "Natasha, Shawarma is not Russian". Though it's appeared relatively recent, it's kind of hard to imagine St.Petersburg without Shawarma nowadays. So it is a food symbol of SPb.

History of Shawarma in Saint-Petersburg

Shawarma appeared in the 90s in Russia. A Syrian man opened a small kiosk with Shawarma close to the Vitebsk railway station and since then these kinds of Kiosks start to grow like mushrooms after rain.

Firstly it was only street food. I remember how my dad was buying Shawarma from a small kiosk and we were eating it on the street. Some of my classmates looked at us as poor people: "Yuck! Natasha, how can you eat it from the street? They use cats, rats, or dogs for sure".

But I didn't care, I loved the taste and the way it was served (wrapped in paper).

My dad loved street food and everywhere we went we used to eat local. This was a way for him to discover the local culture. And I guess he passed this habit to me. Nowadays whenever I travel I try street food together with locals.

Over time people started to open cafes and even serve Shawarma in restaurants. So it stopped being considered as "food of poor".

The difference between Shawarma in SPb and Moscow

  • Filling

Shawarma in Moscow is a pita divided into halves, in which, like in a pocket, are put pieces of pork or chicken fried on a spit, finely chopped cabbage (in winter) or a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers (in summer), flavored with mayonnaise or ketchup.

In St. Petersburg, you can buy something similar, which is different from the Moscow version only in the filling. Saint-Petersburg shawarma is prepared exclusively from chicken, cabbage, or tomatoes and a sauce of sour cream mixed with garlic.

  • Name

Another difference is the name. People from Saint-Petersburg call it шаверма(shaVerma).

There was a funny story about it a few years ago. And Poltavchenko - the head of our city in one interview dared to call it шаурма(shaUrma), this is how Moscow people call it. It was a big scandal. Saint-Petersburg citizens started to gather signatures to make him resign due to insult to the feelings of Saintpetersburgers 😄

Anyway, the situation is solved and I hope neither he nor you are going to do the same mistake anymore.

Anna Volynskaya, a senior researcher at the Institute of Linguistic Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said on the air of Radio Baltika: “Our dictionaries say 'Шаверма, the same шаурма'. It is one and the same word, absolutely equivalent. "

Where to try Shawarma in Saint-Petersburg?

I can't advise you a specific place, because there are so many of them. But!

I can give you a bit of advice where you shouldn't eat for sure:

  • If there are too many spices or salt. It means the meat wasn't good and the cook is trying to cover the smell of spoiled meat. I don't advise you to eat it.

  • Dry or hard bread (lavash).

  • The unpleasant smell of rancid oil.

Also, our Saint-Petersburg programmer developed an app: Where is Shawarma?

It shows most of the places that serve shawarma in Saint-Petersburg. The guy loves Shawarma so much that he even has an Instagram account where he posts photos of shawarmas he tries everywhere.

In Moscow and Saint-Petersburg Shawarma costs 100-200 rubles on average.


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