Nothing says Nova Scotia like a donair! According to Wikipedia donairs originated in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1973 and were made famous by the restaurant King of Donair. Basically it is a pita with a beef and spices mixture on top with tomatoes, onions and a sweet sauce. It is considered a very delicious, messy, wonderful treat by many in Atlantic Canada.
The donair, however, has never really picked up in Manitoba. I have no idea why. It has managed to become fairly popular in Edmonton and Toronto, although many claim nothing ever really comes close to a "Halifax Style Donair". Donairs are so popular in the east coast that the City of Halifax even used it in an advertising campaign for its downtown a few years ago.
In my opinion, the ad uses the concept that in Halifax there is a special spot downtown locals refer to simply as Pizza Corner. It is a corner where there are pizza shops on each corner and they are open until super early in the morning. Crowds of people - mostly university kids and young adults - will gather early in the morning to share some laughs, and grab a slice or a donair. It traditionally is the place to end a night out on the town. The ad shows just how engrained the donair is in the people of Halifax. It is part of the city's identity.
Donairs are part of all menus at pizza shops in Nova Scotia. The meat spins on a low heat cooking and the pizza guy shaves the meat off and then fries it up before placing it on top of the pita and then garnishing it with the sauce, tomatoes, and onions. The best way to eat it is wrapped up in tinfoil. It is a messy time, but who cares because it tastes so good.
Over the last few years my husband has gone into donair withdrawal. He misses them like crazy. It is one of the first things he eats when we go home to Nova Scotia for visits with family and friends. Family have even gone so far as to freeze donair meat and bring it to him when they come to visit us in Manitoba, just to satisfy his craving.
You can imagine my surprise when I was walking through a local grocery store and came upon a Greco Donair Kit for sale! I knew that I had to buy it, no matter what the price! I couldn't believe that such a wonderful piece of the east coast was here in a rural Manitoba grocery store. My husband cooked it up and it did indeed taste pretty similar to one you would buy at a pizza shop back home.
If you are in Manitoba and are interested in trying a donair, keep your eyes open for the Greco Donair Kit in your local grocery store. Definitely worth checking out.
If you can't find the kits, but still want to try a donair, check out Dash's Donair Recipe from All Recipes. I've had friends that have made donairs using this recipe and claim it is pretty close to a true Halifax donair. Maybe one of these days I'll thow a donair party for my Manitoban friends and try out this recipe. Until then I think the Greco Donair Kit will become a staple in our fridge and freezer.