The ultimate korm: Russian shawarma

shaverma1As I’ve previously mentioned, going out in Petersburg means staying out until the bridges come back down and the metro opens at 6 a.m. But keeping a shivering, half-drunk rogue on his feet for some four-odd hours after his eyes have glazed over and his tongue has begun lolling around in his mouth requires some serious feed, namely drunk food. In local slang, it’s “korm,” which literally translates as “animal fodder.”

To fill the void that appears in the swollen belly between the first swig-session of malt liquor and the final slug of vodka arises the phenomenon of the late-night shawarma stand, known here as “shaverma.”

This Central Asian fare sold here is a sickly, unmarriagable cousin in relation to the spicy Middle Eastern shawarma hawked by New York street vendors. But when the moment is right, a Russian shaverma is close to heaven as a man can get on this cold earth, a magical, mysterious mixture of greasy goat meat, pure China white and the sweat off David Bowie’s sequined leg. Pure rocket fuel.

At 4 a.m. on a December night near the Grazhdanskii Prospekt metro, it rejuvenates the body and the soul like a dose of uncut adrenal fluid. You sure that was the final slug of vodka?

*Disclaimer: No animals were harmed in the research for this report, besides a few unlucky Uzbeki goats.

On a serious note, another appeal of shaverma is the element of risk involved: Many Russians, even those who occasionally partake in the carnal rituals of the shaverma stand, will warn you not to eat shaverma more than five times, the implication being that by the fifth time, you’re asking for trouble. Given the generally seedy premises in which shaverma is prepared, the Russian disregard for consumer safety, and the lack of stringent food service regulations and enforcement, you’re bound to get food sickness at some point. The guitarist for the local metalcore group Greenouer, who has a sizable experience with food runs in the wee hours of the morning, noted with great gravity that several friends have gone to the hospital after succumbing to the deceptive allures of shaverma. Better to eat McDonald’s, he says (how I cringe).


3 Responses to “The ultimate korm: Russian shawarma”

  1. You’re aware, of course, that there’s an opposite correlation between the amount of shwarma stands and stray metro dogs near any given Russian metro station. I’m just saying…

  2. […] and the Bear writes about “shaverma” in St. Petersburg, “unmarriagable cousin in relation to the […]

  3. Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is a lot more than I expected for when I stumpled upon a link on Digg telling that the info is quite decent. Thanks.

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