Syr­ian street food No fancy frills are re­quired when the flavours and fresh­ness are this good

The Herald Magazine - - etc RON MACKENNA EATING OUT - LAZORD SYR­IAN STREET FOOD GLAS­GOW

TONIGHT it’s quite clear that all the young dudes are car­ry­ing the news but ex­actly what lan­guage it’s in I can’t quite make out. I’ll only be told that when I even­tu­ally make it to the long, low met­al­topped counter through a sar­dine can of sprawl­ing, lean­ing, chat­ting, arm-on-ea­chother’s-shoul­ders cus­tomers.

Then while or­der­ing I’ll ask the man where all these peo­ple are orig­i­nally from and he’ll say mainly Syria, but all over re­ally, and they’re talk­ing Ara­bic.

Ours will be a brief con­ver­sa­tion be­cause he’s busy and be­cause all the time I am be­ing gen­tly pushed, slightly bumped, harm­lessly nudged back down the counter by the surge of clip­pered-side-shed hair­styles with gelled-back quiffs.

My slow jour­ney there had been en­hanced though, by watch­ing pirou­et­ting chick­ens dance, bub­ble and brown on burn­ers so hot I can feel them pleas­antly toast my face on this bit­terly cold No­vem­ber night.

It’s not what I came in for but I have to have me some of that chicken. Served with salad, the fa­mous muham­mara sauce from Aleppo, saj bread and rice please.

“At least 20 min­utes till they’re ready, mate,” says the man, switch­ing to Glaswe­gian. I shake my head at the prospect of an­other wait and or­der in­stead the Ara­bic shawarma wrap at just over £6. What I don’t re­alise is that all the young dudes haven’t got their food yet and by the time they’ve got theirs and I’ve got mine that ro­tis­serie chicken will be com­pletely ready. So I will have one of them too.

Now. Of all the won­der­ful things that im­mi­grants bring and have brought and will hope­fully con­tinue to bring to this city over the years, their food has surely got to rank su­per-high up there. Look about. It’s ev­ery­where.

And when you can step off a pave­ment in down­town Glas­gow, just round the cor­ner from St Enoch Square, and cul­tur­ally any­way you’ve stum­bled into Syria from a bet­ter time and it’s go­ing like a fair, well, it livens up an oth­er­wise dull Tues­day night, doesn’t it?

I know what you’re think­ing. You’re think­ing: a shawarma? I thought that too. Un­til I got mine. Juicy chicken straight from the grill, chopped, doused in sauce, wrapped tightly in the flat­bread they make freshly them­selves in here; then the whole thing placed on an­other grill. And big old iron weights put on top of it. To flat­ten it down. To de­li­ciously crisp up that flat­bread.

It’s then sliced across the grain. Into sur­pris­ingly el­e­gant fin­ger-size bites. And served with Syr­ian gar­lic cream, more chilli sauce and those sour and salty pick­les that they make them­selves. Out­stand­ing.

On those pick­les, by the way: try the pick­led Scot­tish turnip. Crikey, who knew?

Most dudes are hav­ing chips with their shawar­mas tonight, but this dude’s hav­ing the but­tery rice, full of car­damom flavour.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: JAMIE SIMP­SON

The sur­round­ings at Lazord are less than daz­zling but the Syr­ian food is the po­lar op­po­site, be­ing care­fully pre­pared and ex­cel­lent value

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