At El Trompo, the meat is marinated for two days and then put on a spit and slowly roasted for an entire day with onions and pineapple. They do this during the week when the restaurant isn't as busy, because it makes the restaurant very hot. Indeed, it's this rotisserie "spinning top"—trompo in Spanish—that gives the restaurant its name.
The waitress says she's not aware of any connection between Tacos Al Pastor and Middle Eastern cooking, but it's easy to see that it shares a lot in common with the Lebanese staple, the shawarma. Indeed, David Sterling, an American chef who runs a cooking school in Mexico, writes that waves of Lebanese immigrants to Mexico in the late 1800s and early 1900s had a big impact on Mexican cuisine.
"The traditional spit-roasted meat called shawarma—generally comprised of layers of seasoned lamb on a vertical skewer that rotates in front of a flame—evolved locally with the substitution of pork marinated in achiote with a pineapple balanced on top," it says on his website Los:Dos.
"Thin pieces of pork and pineapple are shaved off of the skewer and onto a fresh tortilla. The now-Mexicanized name of this dish—tacos al pastor, or shepherd’s taco—reveals its ancient mideastern roots and belies its principal ingredient, which would no doubt be viewed as a scandalous twist in the pork-eschewing land of its origin."
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