When thinking of Greek food, there is a good chance that most people will think of gyros. Gyros,  are a very popular option for Greek street food. But Greece isn’t the only place where gyro’s appreciated. In fact, gyros are loved in many countries, especially here in the United States, where they made their way into North American around the 1960’s. In fact,  gyros became so popular that we even decided to have a day out of each year dedicated to the tapered tower of thinly sliced meat rotating on an upright spit; that’s right every year September 1st is National Gyro Day! Whether you have had a gyro or not, in this blog we are going to review some gyro-history.

A history of the gyro

Depending on which side of the pond you’re on, gyro can be pronounced differently. In English, the proper pronunciation of the Greek Street Food is “GAEE-ro” and in Greek it is pronounced “GHEE-ro”. The name originates from the Greek word, ‘gheerezzo’, which translates to the action of turning. The gyro we all know and love today first made its arrival in Greece around 1922, along with a crowd of Armenian — present day Turkey — and Greek refugees. Most of these refugees came from Constantinople and Smyrna, today known as Istanbul and Ismir. It is believed that the Armenians were the true masters of the gyro, but there is not enough evidence to either confirm or deny. Once the refugees settled into their new home, they began to open small shops that sold gyros. Before long, gyros were being sold on every street corner. Along with the immigration patterns after WWII, the gyro then made its way West, popping up in shops throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. Back then, even when gyros became a global fast food, only a few were able to actually describe the then label-less food as most of them were only served in family-owned shops.

Of course, there are different theories about where this delectable wrap originated. Some believe that the gyros sprouted during long and old family traditions of skewered meat feasts. One story in particular dates back to the time of Alexander the Great and his armies, who were known to often skewer and roast different types of meat over an open fire.

How gyros are made

Originally, gyros are made by stacking a pile of thinly sliced meat, traditionally lamb. However, gyros have also been known to be made with beef, pork, or a combination of the meats, too. The layers of packed meat are roasted in an upright position, causing the meat layers to mend together. The gyro meat is then sliced very thin and traditionally placed in a pita. Gyro toppings can vary; however, it is common to see tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, parsley, and occasionally fried potatoes.  Perhaps one of the most important ingredients to a gyro is the tzatziki sauce. The sauce is made out of ingredients like yogurt, cucumbers, salt, olive oil and more and it gives gyros a unique and flavorful taste!

Interesting Gyro Facts

While gyros are enjoyed by many across the globe, many people do not know too much about the tasty Greek street food. The next time you go grab a delicious gyro to eat, surprise your friends and family with these interesting gyro facts!

  • Although grilling meat stacked on a skewer originated in the Eastern Mediterranean, grilling stacked meat vertically and cutting it as it cooks was developed in Ottoman Bursa during the 19th century
  • September 1st is National Gyro Day
  • The gyro is one of the most mispronounced names of any food item, mistakenly being pronounced “jee-ros”, “jai-ros” or “gee-ros”when the correct Greek pronunciation is “GHEE-ro”. There is no true letter G, in the English sense, in the Greek language and the Greek letter gamma is pronounced “yeh”.
  • Mr Sami Eid, a Cypriot Lebanese restaurant owner who lives in Limassol Cyprus, made an 8866 pound gyro, setting the world record for the biggest gyro ever made
  • The gyro was first believed to be introduced to the American public in 1965 at Parkview Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois

Go eat a delicious gyro sandwich

In Greece, gyros are one of the most popular foods among tourists. Whether you are on the streets of Greece or eating one at an American restaurant, you cannot go wrong with a gyro. Does all of this talk have you craving a gyro now?  If you are looking for the best gyro in Los Angeles, be sure to head towards to Springtime Cafe! Experience the flavors of the authentic Greek street-food right in LA! Our famous gyro sandwiches are bound to have you coming back for more! Not feeling a traditional gyro sandwich? Try our gyro panini, gyro salad, gyro burrito, gyro burger, or one of our other Greek gyro-inspired plates. Don’t feel like coming into town? Don’t worry, we deliver the best gyros in LA! Contact Springtime Cafe to learn more.