Though there is evidence that the Greeks of the Byzantine era enjoyed shish kebab (they are mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey), shish kebab is considered a signature Turkish dish. The name “shish kebab” comes from the Turkish words şiş kebap that mean “skewer” and “roast meat.” Unusual meats were marinated to tenderize and remove any meat’s gamey flavor. It is said that Turkish soldiers used their swords to grill their meats in open field fires during the Turkish invasion of Anatolia.
Shish kebab proved a natural dietary solution for nomadic tribes in what is now modern-day Turkey.
Over time and around the world, the popularity of shish kebabs has expanded into many cultures.
Around the Globe
Shish Kebab Etiquette
Portuguese espetadas are beef shish kebabs marinated in wine and roasted on an open fire.
Lahm mishwy is the equivalent of shish kebab in Arabic. The meat of choice is usually lamb, and it is cooked over a fire on a skewer holder, so the meat never touches the grill itself.
In many Asian countries, one can find which is roasted, skewered meat called satay or sate. It’s usually made with chicken, served with a peanut dipping sauce.
Japan has yakitori which is grilled, skewered fowl.
In France, shish kebabs are called brochettes, meaning “skewers.”
|In Turkey, the vegetables are not on the skewers, but are grilled separately from meat.|
Only when they’re small and served prior to a meal, as hors d’oeuvres or appetizers at a standing reception or buffet, are shish kebab eaten directly from the skewer itself. When served as appetizers, the skewers are often holding small chunks of colorful fruits instead of meats or fowl.
When served as a main course, the shish kebab meats and/or vegetables are removed from the skewer and eaten from the plate.
One can either lift the skewer and use the fork to gently push and slide meats or vegetables from the skewer and onto your plate, or use the knife to slide the pieces of food off, while holding the skewer firmly in between two tines of your fork.
It’s best to slide the pieces of meat, chicken or vegetables off the skewer away from oneself, but be careful pieces do not slide off onto the table or into another’s lap.
Never cut the meat from the skewer to eat. After removing each piece from the skewer, use your knife and fork to cut the meat and/or vegetables into manageably eaten pieces. Eat the meat or vegetables as you would any others, one bite at a time.
When finished, place the skewers toward the right edge of your plate, along with your utensils.
Sources- The Spruce Eats.com, African Bites.com and various etiquette authorities
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia©️ Etiquette Encyclopedia