For hungry Silk Road travelers, roadside grills offered some of the world's first take-out food. Later, Mongol invaders spread the practice of grilling meat on skewers to Russia and eastern Europe.
By the 1800s, it had become fashionable food in Russian cities. When the Soviet Union annexed Central Asia, charcoal-grilled skewered meat became universally known by its Russian name, "shashleek."
Today, this original Central Asian BBQ is the most popular BBQ in the world, enjoyed from eastern Europe to China, from Siberia to the Mediterranean, in Queens, and now in Boston and Cambridge.
Say "shash-leek" to a native, and watch for big smiles!