I knew almost immediately that I’d be happy in Be’er Sheva. After being in Israel for less than 24 hours I’d already had the best hummus, shawarma, and pita of my life. And even some damn good Israeli wine (a chewy, chocolaty Balkan Reserve 2007 Pinotage).
The shawarma (you get your choice of chicken, turkey, or lamb served in a pita or the much larger baguette) is thinly shaved off the spits with an electric knife into what appears to be a dustpan. Don’t think about it. The pita is filled with hummus and your choice of toppings: harif (a local/Yemeni version of harissa, or spicy chili sauce), shum (a green, herbaceous garlic sauce), salad (cucumbers and tomatoes), and other goodies. They give you two plates to take all the pickled vegetables (carrots, beets, onions) and fried foods (onion strings, greasy eggplant, fries, fritters) you care to.
The tender turkey tasted truly like turkey, not just a generic white meat vehicle for the sauces. Creamy hummus and fresh-baked pita are the perfect foil to the spicy harif. Bite after bite delivers depth of flavor, a slow burning heat, and absolute satisfaction. I could eat this every day.
To top things off, Evan brought me a condiment he instinctually knew I’d love. Amba is a soft orange vinegary, spicy pickled mango condiment that I would eat on almost everything. It reminded me of India, or maybe the Caribbean, and made me happy. Evan says the lackluster fries (here called chips) are best thought of as amba delivery methods. He couldn’t be more right.