When In Europe, The First Stop Is Doner
The rest of the world does halal carts, too
Food Republic Associate Editor Jess Kapadia is currently reporting live from Germany as her role has shifted to FR’s official Christkindlmarkts and Teutonic tube steak correspondent. You can follow the action here and especially on the Lufthansa Markt Blog.
You may have heard that I'm in Germany this week. Don't you worry your hungry face, a sausage ...no, many sausage posts, are on their way. But first things first. I'm abroad, and that means doner and their kin are just steps away from wherever I find myself. Doner is the "everywhere else" equivalent of New York's beloved halal carts, specifically referring to the giant rotating cone of meat also known as "shawarma" that one slices hunks off and deposits in a pita with any number of toppings.
I arrived in Nuremberg — my first destination on a weeklong trip — to heavy rain and chilly temperatures. (Okay Germany, you've made your point, let's have some of that famous sunshine.) Hungry for just about anything, I spotted a doner place across the street from my hotel. I must have looked crazy, sliding my passport across the reception desk, making no eye contact because I was debating between the lovely European breakfast spread of better meat and cheese than we have, and hitting the doner place for a gyro positively doused with white sauce and a serious order of fries. Guess who won?
Why, with all the German food in the world at my fingertips, did I choose a pita wrap and fries over potato rosti or bratwurst and kraut when I can have the former any day of the week? Because it's just better here. It's not a halal cart, it's doner. Plus I'm about to regale you with tales of delicious spaetzle beneath braised meats until you beg me for salad.
It's just kind of a tradition. No matter where I find myself "inexplicably starving" in Amsterdam, in need of a break from buckwheat crepes in Paris (rarely) or even in countries like India, Israel and Egypt where the good stuff collectively originated, I can get a nice, spicy hit of greasy, awesome comfort food before I dig into the actual local cuisine.
Ever been to a country where you couldn't find halal, doner, shawarma or the like? I haven't. I think that's a good sign.