an ode to kebabs

You know what I’m talking about, if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • If you have ever traveled to a pricey European city and tried to find a cheap meal
  • If you are a vegetarian in the land of ham
  • If its 4am and you are starving from a night of dancing and its the only place open
  • if you are a devout street foodie
  • if you’re friends with someone who has been to Europe and its all they talk about (“I would kill for a kebab right now”)

It is the traveler’s companion, the backpacker’s sustenance and the drunk’s late night salvation. Its the kebab stand. And this, is an ode to the kebab (and its cousin, falafel).

In the window, you can sometimes see huge hunks of meat, spinning on a skewer spiked through the middle. Depending on the time of day, there may be a small crowd or or a huge line. The menu is sparse, but it really only needs a few things: kebab, falafel, fries, drinks and glossy 8 x 10 pictures of each. *Eating at a kebab place is in direct contradiction to my firm belief that it is not a good idea to eat at restaurants that advertise with said photos… but here, I make an exception.

Sit down, stand up or take it to go – and spend a mere 4 or 5 euros for a “balanced meal.” For you herbivores, there is the falafel – a glorious concoction of chickpeas, spices and magic. Try to ignore the meat on a stick – this is the best sandwich you will ever have. Similar to the gyros of Greek American fame, kebabs can be beef or chicken, but whatever you choose – get it with the works. Lettuce, tomato, onions, cabbage and the two sauces. And get fries. I don’t care if you can see the freezer bag they come from – these are amazing potatoes.

It’s the sauce. I am convinced it is laced with habit forming drugs. Know why? Because I can’t savor these treats. I find it physically impossible to take my time and savor all the flavors. No one can! I snarf them. The world ceases to exist and a few minutes after the first bite there is nothing but sauce on my fingers and lettuce at my feet. What just happened? I look at the tinfoil disaster in front of me – puddles of sauce an assorted cabbage litter the bottom. Dabbing at my guilty face with a paper napkin I am both full and happy, and still have some money left over. Now where is the nearest churros place? priorities here, people πŸ™‚

Two additional points to make here — my own father is now hooked on the goodness of kebabs as a result of his recent trip to Spain. The other point being that Sevilla is severely lacking in the arena of late night cuisine. Granada is jam-packed with kebab stands ready for late night revelers and the occasional backpacker, whereas Sevilla seems restricted to the After Hours McDonald’s menu, or god forbid, the KFC (where a friend was once refused food on the account of the chicken being “ugly” and the workers were tired of serving). Show me to the nearest Wawa .. approx 3,000 miles away.

Thanks to fellow blogger budajest for her recent post on kebabs in Budapest .. I am looking forward to dining there someday soon and following her recommendations to the letter.

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5 thoughts on “an ode to kebabs

  1. Thanks for mentioning my site! It’s great to read the adventures of a fellow expat traveller, so I’m glad that I have a link to yours as well πŸ™‚ And if you do visit Hungary, let me know, because I have oodles of good food recs. Actually the best time for most central European visits is during the warm weather when there is a street festival, because there will definitely be good street food. In truth, central Europe can be hard on foodies. The blight of communism really stifled the desire for culinary inspiration and also the ability to own small businesses. But that’s changing now, albeit slowly. Still, it’s great for those of us lucky enough to experience it!

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    • Oh the pull of street festivals .. delicious! There is an outside chance I will make my way to Budapest when I take off from Spain in June – I will keep you posted!

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  2. Loved this post! I craved kebabs after I came back from studying abroad and now I eat as many as I can now that I’m back. And you’re right, it’s impossible to savor them. The best one I’ve had so far was in MΓ‘laga, where they put curry sauce on it. SO GOOD.

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