When most Americans hear the word kebab, they think Shish kebab: cubes of meat and vegetables skewered on a thin metal rod and cooked over the barbecue. Throughout most of Europe, when people hear kebab, they are thinking of the Döner kebab.
It’s easy to describe what a Döner kebab is, but hard to express exactly how delicious it tastes. Basically, a Döner kebab is a gyro, but with Turkish bread instead of a bland pita and made with savory roasted lamb instead of whatever rubber meat is used to make gyros.
The term kebab refers specifically to a skewered meat dish. In our Shish kebab dish, the meat is both prepared and served skewered as one serving, but the skewering in a Döner kebab works differently. A large amount of lamb is skewered and cooked; usually enough to last one restaurant several days. The lamb is then rotated and roasted again prior to each customer’s order, and the perfectly charred outside is shaved off to make the lamb filling for the Döner kebab.
These delicious treats are a common fast food option in most of Europe. Kebap is an alternate accepted spelling. In France they seem to pronounce it as kebap, but I don’t know if they use that spelling. Since Döner kebabs are relatively cheap, fast to make and their stalls are open late, they have become a favorite food of the drunken masses stumbling home in the wee hours of the morning. This has lead to some health concerns in England, but while I am sure that they aren’t exactly good for you, they must be better than Taco Bell.
I like mine with ketchup on it…
I have found Döner kebabs all over France, England, Germany and the Netherlands. The best were in France where you can find yummy but low quality ones in small stalls, as well as extremely delicious yet more expensive ones in slightly larger restaurants that offer them to-go.
Important side-note for potential kebab connoisseurs: I was not fond of the ones in Amsterdam, where the meat and bread are lost under the piles of pickled ingredients.
Next time you are in France or Germany, look for a kebap. I know it’s the first thing I do. If you speak french, check out Kebab Generation.