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Where to find it: Kafta skewers 

Grilling on skewers is popular throughout the world. Metal and wood skewers come in a variety of lengths, sizes and flexibility. One recent trend is to use flexible metal skewers, which solve two problems. First, a bendable skewer takes less space in a refrigerator; thus, foods can marinate while on the skewers. Secondly, these skewers save space on the grill.

Some foods are traditionally cooked on long and slender metal skewers. These include Greek souvlaki and Turkish shisk kabobs. Many Asian dishes, such as Japanese yakitori and Indonesian satay, use bamboo skewers. The Spanish conquistadors took their pinchos and pinchitos, aka meat on a stick, to the New World. In Peru, street vendors sell anticuchos; the most popular is anticuchos de corazon (beef heart).

But these metal and wood skewers are all slender, which works well with cuts of meat, finfish and whole shellfish, but does not work well with ground meats.

Kafta is the famous Lebanese minced (not ground) meat skewers thought to have originated in ancient Persia. Kafta is a blend of meat, parsley, onion, olive oil and spices. But the mixture is less cohesive than a typical American meatloaf. Thus, if you try to wrap the kafta mixture around a long, slender skewer, the meat will fall off.

Authentic recipes for Lebanese kafta require a specific metal skewer. This skewer is flat and one half inch wide. In Charlotte, you'll find these in stock at Cedarland Grocery (4832 Central Ave., Suite D). Skewers are $2.50 each.

Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the Q.C.? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: tricia.childress@creativeloafing.com or 704-522-8334, extension 136.

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