John Kerry’s Polarizing Turkey Shawarma
The world cries ‘fowl’ about his culinarily curious choice of grub
Yesterday, word spread high and low (or primarily on Twitter) about Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to order a turkey shawarma during his trip to Ramallah. Was Kerry living in fear of Michelle Obama’s eat healthy initiative or was this the clumsy culinary equivalent of windsurfing?
Over at Commentary, the turkey shawarma took on symbolic form, where it came to represent the general meaninglessness of Kerry’s trip to the Levant:
At least that’s how Kerry’s trip will seem to those in the region, who probably watched in utter confusion as Kerry made a big deal out of his trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories but spent his time in classic Kerry fashion: mumbling opaque and equivocal platitudes that could have been issued from Washington, just without the shawarma.
Though it’s probably worth pointing out that Kerry reportedly ate turkey shawarma, which of course isn’t shawarma at all but rather a ludicrous shawarma impostor whose proliferation is a terrifying sign of impending total civilizational collapse, and thus Kerry didn’t even accomplish that one goal.
I’m not sure how any secretary of state’s attempt show American investment in the peace process is ever a bad thing, but clearly the shawarma touched a nerve. First, as Blake Hounshell pointed out, there was confusion:
Foreign Policy has confirmed that John Kerry did, in fact, have a turkey shawarma sandwich. But they called it chicken.
Earlier today, Tom Gara added:
Outrage about turkey shawerma ignores the broader point that for shawerma purists, chicken shawerma itself is a recent inauthentic impostor.
I spoke to Tablet’s culinary-revisionist-in-residence Liel Leibovitz about the phenomenon of turkey shawarma. Here’s what he had to say:
“There’s nothing inherently evil about the turkey shawarma. It’s not an unacceptable choice. But one would expect any leader of men who doesn’t feast on shawarma frequently to take the symbolic route, order the lamb, and ask for as much of the fat bit up top, which is how you eat it.”
Ron Kampeas, however, might have made the most sense of it all.
In this case, Kerry might have bridged a cultural divide rather than fell into one. Shawarma, absolutely, is Palestinian. Making it from turkey, though, is an Israeli innovation, stemming from the country’s austere first decades, when lamb and beef were barely available.
This utterly sensible practice (turkey also is healthier) spread to the West Bank, and has persisted there despite the apparent collapse of any other signs of Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.