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10 YEARS #1 | Aleppo Sandwich Pt 1

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Sep 21, 2020
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In honor of our 10th anniversary we’re re-releasing three all-time favorite episodes, selected by listeners, each with a brand new update. "Searching For The Aleppo Sandwich" is a two-part story. You can find part two here. On Saturday night, September 26 at 9pm Eastern / 6pm Pacific, join us for our 10th Anniversary Party on Instagram Live with special guests Carla Hall and Sohla El-Waylly. We're also raising money for Feeding America. Follow Dan on Instagram so you don’t miss the party.

It was the kind of restaurant where you take guests visiting from out of town to help them understand what you love about your home.

"Some corner in your stomach will taste that food and maybe you will feel that your stomach is smiling, happy," says photographer Issa Touma, who grew up in Aleppo, Syria, of the sandwich shop in question.

These days Aleppo is the symbol of the devastation of the Syrian civil war. But before that, Aleppo was Syria's food capital — known for its diverse mix of Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and European food cultures. And the place Issa's talking about was famous.

"It was a pilgrimage spot," says journalist Adam Davidson (below), who visited the restaurant in 2003 with his then-girlfriend, Jen Banbury (below left), now his wife.

Issa took Jen and Adam to try those amazing sandwiches, just as he had with so many guests visiting his home city.

More than a decade later they still have vivid memories of that meal. "I just wish I had somehow documented it," Jen says. "Clearly that place is long gone. Who knows whether the owners are alive or dead."

But what if it's not?

This week on The Sporkful, we're going on a quest to find out what made this place special, and what happened to the shop and its owners. Are they, too, victims of the Syrian conflict? What can the fate of this restaurant tell us about the fate of Aleppo?

The journey starts with Part 1 and concludes with Part 2, up now with a special 2020 update. Along the way, we'll take you from Aleppo to Austria, from Detroit to New York to Istanbul — all in search of a sandwich.

Interstitial music in this episode from Black Label Music:

- "Minimaliminal" by Jack Ventimiglia

- "Child Knows Best" by Jack Ventimiglia

- "Private Detective" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Feel Real Good" by Will Van De Crommert

- "Midnight Grind" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Broken Castle" by Bijou Basil

- "Asphalt Gods" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "Narwhal" by Casey Hjelmberg

Photos Courtesy of Flickr, and Jen Banbury and Adam Davidson.

 

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