Pronunciation: [ahl pahs-TOHR]
This Latino specialty is prepared much like the Greek gyro but typically is formed of pork rather than lamb. Thin slices of marinated pork are stacked and molded onto a large spit, then topped with a large chunk of pineapple. As a vertical gas flame roasts the meat on the rotating spit, pineapple juice drips down the sides creating sweet, crispy edges. Slices of meat are shaved off the exterior as the spit turns. Numerous vendors in Mexico City sell tacos al pastor, tortillas topped with slices of this spit-grilled meat, pieces of the pineapple and other additions such as onions, cilantro and salsa. Such vendors are also found in U.S. cities with a large Mexican population. The term al pastor means "to the shepherd" and it's thought that these shepherd's-style tacos were adapted from similar lamb-based preparations ( shawarma) brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.