SACRAMENTO, CA - The record-breaking weekend release of "The Avengers" has led to a sharp spike in Google searches for the word "shawarma."
The Iron Man character, played by Robert Downey, Jr., mentions his desire to eat shawarma at a nearby restaurant.
"I don't know what it is and I want to try it," the character says.
Iron Man and his fellow superheroes are later shown eating shawarma in a scene that follows the closing credits.
Like Iron Man, Americans seem largely unfamiliar with the marinated beef, lamb or chicken that is a staple of Middle-Eastern fast food.
"That's too bad. I'm sorry for them," said Abdul-Massih Maalouf, owner of Maalouf's Taste of Lebanon restaurant on Fulton Avenue in Sacramento.
Shawarma is most commonly served wrapped in pita bread. It is often sliced from a large skewer, but Maalouf said he prefers the freshness of cooking smaller portions to order.