My authentic Turkish shawarma while Jacob explaining the Qur'an
I still have the aftermath of Raw School's last assignment: To create an ad to recruit people into Muslim faith and another to recruit into Catholic faith. That was totally, totally crazy. I mean, next to selling insurance, I think the hardest thing to do was to influence someone about his faith!
Born from a Catholic family, I have stopped practicing back in college when I got into Sociology class on our sophomore or junior years (I don't really remember when was that, but yeah, this professor in Sociology corrupted my faith! LOL) Admittedly, I don't know much about my religion, very much so about the Muslim faith. So I went up to a couple of friends whom I know are reliable about the topic. First, to my bestfriend (who is from the seat of Catholicism and practiced Islam at one point, but then went back to his original faith) and later on to Jacob, the very proud owner of Jacob's Shawarma restaurant.
My colleague, Ariane posing for Jacob's Shawarma
So again, why do I have this entry on my food blog? I guess because next to language (or religion for that matter), what you can't take away from someone is his food. And Jacob's Shawarma is like an epitome of Turkish culture and food. From what I've read, the spread of Muslim faith started in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey during the arrival of the Ottoman Empire. And much like the language, you will find the reflection of a culture from its food just like an original Turkish shawarma. It has zest, it's fresh, tender and spicy at the same time. It has no garlic sauce that we use to get from shawarma stalls in the malls or streets. But it was really good. I've read from somewhere, if you want to know a country's culture, you have to start with the food. And Jacob's shawarma is very rich as its history back in the days when Constantinople was still an imperial capital of the Roman Empire. The combination of parsley, tomatoes, white onion with the lamb in a pita bread bursts in your mouth like you're tasting each ingredient all at the same time. I don't know if it was from the Romans, the Byzantines or the Ottomans but it was definitely one authentic dish I'm getting there. And more so, my perception about shawarma has changed. It's not the same shawarma I think of anymore.
My lunch: Lamb shawarma with Soya drink made by the Restauranteur himself, Jacob Cortes.
A Brief Background:
I met Jacob a few years back in Myspace and he came to Manila to take care of a few business. At first, I was reluctant to believe he was into modeling and that he was putting a shawarma business here. Maybe because of my subtle apprehension that he is a Muslim and the life-long impression I have of someone like him. Not to mention, he is a foreigner. But then, my good samaritan instinct propped me to helping him. I saw the genuity and sincerity in him. Plus, I felt kawawa to him roaming around Manila without knowing anyone, and very difficult to understand with his conversant English at that time. So, I referred a few things relating to his upcoming business with high hopes he'll get some help. And the rest was history.
Going Back to the Aftermath of the Raw School Assignment:
At this point, I asked Jacob to help us in relating some info about the Muslim faith, a little of history, what it's all about. Me and Ariane went to his cozy, cozy restaurant in Ortigas. The interview began at 10am and time spun so fast and so are the many doors that showed me to the Muslim faith. I haven't seen anyone who has known his faith just like Jacob. I was silently telling myself, I wish I had known mine like he does. There were also a few things that made me change the way I look at Muslim faith like allowing a man to have up to four wives, which according to Jacob is not in a Muslim practice but an ethnic culture, the Jihad or Holy War, their belief in Jesus Christ among other things.
If you pass by Ortigas, try having lunch or dinner or midnight snack at Jacob's Shawarma. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day. If you're coming from Galleria, just exit from Gold's Gym and take a walk to the street when you go out. Up near the corner, you will find this cute little restaurant greeted by Filipino staff and you'll be served by this Turkish hunk with his authentic Turkish shawarma.
Posing with Jacob's expression board on the background. All things written are nothing but satisfaction with his shawarma. Some are even signed by famous people. :)
Also a must try: The soya drink especially made by the Restauranteur himself :)