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Searching For The Aleppo Sandwich Pt. 1

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Nov 06, 2017

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player, Stitcher, or Apple Podcasts. (And please subscribe!)

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).

Jen and Adam Baghdad 2004

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?

Can the fate of this restaurant tell us something about the fate of Aleppo?

The journey starts with Part 1 today and concludes with Part 2 -- out tomorrow.

Along the way, we'll take you from Aleppo to Austria, from Detroit to New York to Istanbul -- all in search of a sandwich.

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player, Stitcher, or Apple Podcasts. (And please subscribe!)

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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: FlickrCC; courtesy of Jen Banbury + Adam Davidson

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