Every country has their street food culture. Students crowding around food trucks at Off the Grid in California for some tacos and crème brûlée. A busy commuter rushing through the streets of New York City with a hot dog in one hand and loose papers in another. Across the ocean, Chinese students walk home with mini boxes of Japanese takoyaki and cups of bubble milk tea.
And in the middle of the night on the cobblestone streets of France, club-goers are picking up their choice grub after a successful soirée: a fresh piping hot kebab from their favorite open-late restaurant on a side street.
(And please excuse the bad photography – my brother did not do this kebab justice.)
This popular kebab is a Middle Eastern dish consisting of various meats, salad, and sauce wrapped in flatbread (similar to the Indian ‘naan’). As common as McDonalds in America, these kebab restaurants can be stumbled upon in nearly every European city. Just follow your nose.
Hungry for a quick bite during a shopping spree in London? In need of something cheap and filling at a German Christmas market? Walk up to the take-out window of a kebab restaurant and choose your meat, which is most likely rotating on a vertical split inside. Crispy fries are popularly thrown in just to make these babies even harder to deny. Generally, there is a list of the available sauces and the most delicious are the ones that offer no hint to its contents: “white sauce” and “spicy sauce”. (Probably a yogurt-based sauce and a chilli sauce.) It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure meal!
Kebabs have spread like wildfire across Western Europe and for good reason: Cheap, filling, and so good! If you’re thinking of traveling to Europe anytime soon or even studying abroad – there is hope to live off of a budget despite the currency exchange! At an average of about 5 euro each, these giant kebabs could feed you for two meals! (Depending on your appetite, of course.)
And do yourself a favor – get it with fries. Go crazy with the sauce.
My kebab of choice? There’s this little joint down Rue Désirée in Lyon, France. It’s easy to miss and the hours are weird. But the cook, waitress, and owner are some of the friendliest and cheeriest people you will ever meet. Get the grilled onions and the spicy sauce on the kebab. Get a mango lassi. You can thank me later and let me know if you find it.