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Favorite Things: Paul Titov and his flat skewer

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When I was a child, this skewer was all around me. It was the only thing we ever used. It was primitive cooking — some days we would just BBQ around a fire with a pile of bricks. We put meat on this, chicken or whatever we wanted.

This skewer isn’t just the story of my people as Armenian, but most Middle Eastern people as well. People always say “My grandfather used to do it this way.” There are a lot of arguments on what is the best way to cook with it.

Originally this was a sword. Soldiers would go into battle, and between battles, they would take pieces of meat and put it on their swords to cook. Little by little, these evolved into more of a home-oriented item.

These come in all shapes and forms, but this one is my favorite one. I probably have 40 of these at my house. I have a special bucket to keep it in at my house I made to store it. If we are going to a picnic, I pick up my bucket and it goes with me wherever I go.

I can’t wait till the weather breaks for a little bit. For the next six months, this will be the only thing I will cook with. There is not a weekend that goes by where I don’t use this.

I like to use ground beef with it. We call this a lula kabob. It takes skill to put ground beef on that will stay on the skewer when cooked. You have to form it in a proper way. If there are any air pockets, the meat will fall off.

Mostly, I learned how to do this from seeing other people doing it. My father did it. My grandfather did it. My uncles did it. They could only teach me so much. Practice is what makes perfect.

BBQ grills are fun and everything, but this cooks the meat like nothing else does.

I agree it probably isn’t as convenient as a grill, but it gives you a feeling that you are doing exactly what your grandfather and ancestors did. It gives you a little more flavor to your food with the love and history behind it.

Just looking at it brings back so many memories from back in my childhood. Every moment I cook with it, I can cherish those.

Food is not so much what is on your tongue, but in your mind as well. When those two combine, it makes one hell of a flavor.

(This interview was edited and condensed by Dennis Burck. If you have a recommendation for “Favorite Things,” please email dennis@lansingcitypulse.com.)

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