Everyone has their favourite post-night-out eatery, but nothing has proven so popular among the nation’s disco goers as the Döner kebab.
That mix of meat, salad, bread and spice satisfies the nation’s obsession with spicy foreign cuisine while remaining recognisable to the average British countryman’s eye.
When it comes to sampling foreign food, we like to see what things are made of, to make absolutely sure we’re paying for something we’ll want to eat at the end. But the Döner goes one better. You can take part in its creation.
Do you want fresh onions, salad, salsa or sour cream? The choices are far from exhaustive, and it may be all thrown together in a pita at the end, but the visual preparation and resulting taste far outweigh any doubts over aesthetics.
The word ‘kebab’ literally means roasted meat on a skewer in the Turkish language but, like many popular dishes in the kebab family, the names have found their way into British culture almost completely unchanged. Kebabs are popular throughout Europe, and Turkish influence is even visible in Asian cultures known as ‘satay’ meaning ‘skewered,’ and in French cuisine as ‘brochettes.’
Preparation usually involves moulding marinated lamb, beef or chicken to a rotating spit (Döner, actual means rotating kebab in Turkish), before slicing it off thinly and packing it into pita bread with freshly sliced lettuce, tomatoes, onions. Western cultures also like to eat the Döner meat with chips, and a variety of spicy sauces.
The Döner has received some fairly bad press throughout the years, as preparation of the fast food favourite remains confined to small businesses, some of which have not maintained the required health standards. The ingredients and preparation of the dish have also been strongly debated, as the large amounts of fat and salt in certain Döner kebabs have caused members of the public and press to consider the Döner kebab as a ‘guilty’ pleasure, rather than a wholesome meal.
Like the humble sandwich, the Döner’s popularity probably owes to its versatility, and if The Earl of Sandwich had reached for a pita instead of two slices of bread, the average English lunchtime might look quite different.
Instead, the Döner settles for being the British after-hours snack, and is to the later nighters, what the sandwich is to the nine-to-fivers; a super filling, versatile multifaceted snack you can hold in your hand.