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Gyro, Falafel and Pita Sandwiches

This group of similar Mediterranean and Middle Eastern sandwiches banks on roasted meat, lentils and yogurt dressing as its common denominator. The gyro, falafel and pita sandwiches are comfortably eaten on the street food stands as well as in trendy restaurants featuring foods from these cuisines.

The gyro is a sandwich made with slices of spiced meat cooked on a pit, served with salad in pita bread,” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. Emphasis is on the roasted meat, which is typically sliced off from the rotisserie then chopped so it can be the filling for the pita. In the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by food writer John F. Mariani, the gyro is said to be a Greek-American invention which uses seasoned lamb as the filling. Its name translates from the Greek word which means “to turn,” the very method used in cooking the meat on a vertical rotisserie.

The falafel sandwich is composed of ground chickpeas or fava beans (instead of meat) formed into a round patty, deep fried to a crisp and then served on a pita bread like the Greek gyro. Most often, you’d see the falafel sandwich on both streetside joints and Mediteranean-inspired eateries, three falafel balls to a sandwich, moistened with a cucumber-yogurt sauce (the tzatziki) and seasoned with fresh parsley. Healthier falafel sandwiches use baked falafel balls instead of deep-fried in oil.

The pita sandwich pretty much encompasses any sandwich that uses the pita as its bread instead of traditional white loaves, rolls or buns.

Greek salad pita sandwich, chicken pita, tuna pita, shrimp pita, turkey pita and vegetarian pita are just some of the variations of this type of sandwich. The pita has a pocket which is stuffed with the filling or sometimes, it’s wrapped with it, making it a wrap sandwich.