Doner Kebabs: England’s Favourite Drunken Late Night Dinner

A doner kebab from Doner Haus in Manchester.
A doner kebab from Doner Haus in Manchester city centre. Groovy.

A greasy doner kebab is one of the favourite ways for a drunken Englishman to end his night. Not that he would probably remember ordering, or eating, the thing.

And the thing is, these things are mighty tasty. It’s just if you’re going to eat one, why not savour it when totally sober and with full term memory?

Well, we’re here to explore the history of drunkenness and hunger pangs.

What’s a Doner Kebab?

A doner kebab… is a type of kebab! It’s made from meat that’s cooked on those big vertical things. That’s a rotisserie.

Seasoned meat is added to the thing and gradually turned next to a cooking thing and a chef can then carve meat off the stack.

Doner kebab meat is then usually added to a pitta bread, with a sprinkling of salad and a bunch of mayonnaise.

Since the 1970s, the dish has become a popular one in England.

Often with football fans, drunk students, and drunk revellers out and about and looking for a tasty meal at 3am.

It’s common to walk around any English city and see a half eaten doner kebab abandoned in a carton by the side of the road.

The History of the Doner Kebab

As you’d expect, this dish originated outside of England. Historical records point to the 17th century during the Ottoman Empire.

There are notes indicating stacks of meat cooked on a rotisserie even then. And Bursa in Turkey is considered the birthplace of the doner kebab.

But it took many centuries for the dish to become popularised and move abroad. In fact, it wasn’t until 1945 when journalists in Istanbul discovered the dish. Particularly with a restaurant called Beyti Güler (still running to this day) at: Şenlikköy Mah., Orman Sokak 8.

After that, the doner kebab spread across Europe like the plague, wiping out all before it.

From the mid-to-late 20th century it soon became a fast food staple. The first one to open in London was in 1966.

And throughout the 1970s similar places hit Greece, before arriving in New York in 1971. No one stood a chance!

And since then, particularly in England, it’s come to be viewed as a distinctly British dish. Head into any English city around 1am on a Friday night and the kebab shop will be open and packed out with drunk students and everyone else.

All to slake their lust for kebab meat and mayonnaise.

It’s a curious affair as the food is very tasty, but most people who consume it will have Korsakoff syndrome eradicated memories Memento style.

In terms of a foodstuff regularly eaten around the world, we struggle to think of another where so many consumers won’t remember a thing about eating it.

Something of a sad fate for the humble doner. Although we’re sure some sober people do eat one from time to time. Just not in England.

Are Doner Kebabs Healthy?

No. As with the deep-fried Mars Bar, it’s about as healthy as eating sewerage.

One of the problems is a lot of people who buy a doner kebab are drunk and don’t eat most of it. They’ll then happen across its sweaty remains whilst hungover the following day and try heating it up to eat it.

This can result in food poisoning and other such gubbins.

And, in general, the doner kebab is high in salt, fat, and calorie levels. It’s just not at all good for you, especially when couple with a night of drunkenness.

The Drunken Doner Kebab Tradition

The preparation time to ordering a doner kebab is extensive. Prior to consuming it, one must imbibe large quantities of alcohol.

We suggest bargain booze cider. That stuff in two litre bottles that costs £2.

Once in the ownership of such fine goods, begin consuming it with much gusto. And to the extent one is unable to remain coherent and functioning.

Then, stumble mindlessly into a kebab shop and begin insulting the staff. They’re foreign, or something, so with your British exceptionalism in mind you have every right to call the staff members, “Bellends!” and some such.

And when one has the doner kebab in one’s possession, then it is time to consume it. Behold!

The next step in the “making” a doner kebab food is the following morning. With no recollection at all of ever consuming a doner kebab, it’s time to reflect.

You’ll only remember you ate one when you stumble upon its rotting, sweaty, greasy corpse when one is so raging hungover it’d make Hemingway proud.

Congratulations! You’re now British by default! Go forth and consume fish & chips.

4 comments

  1. We have these in NZ too. In fact there is a kebab shop just two blocks from where I am as I write this. Nearby is a shop dispensing that other great British culinary institution, curry of the kind never seen in India but often sold in East End takeaways, and as served to Rick Wakeman by a roadie in November 1973 while he was performing a sold-out Yes concert in the Manchester Free Trade Hall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, sir, I recommend you down a litre of cider and stagger on over to said kebab shop to indulge in said Englishness to be like said English people. And feel free to wear a Rick Wakeman cape whilst you’re at it! Glad to see you got a Manchester mention in, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We don’t have much of this in the US. The first doner kebab I had was in Germany, where it’s also wildly popular thanks in part probably to the big Turkish population there. Reminds me a lot of the shawarma, which is similar in concept and in calories. I think they’re both getting better known here, though! All the better, McDonalds could use the competition.

    Liked by 1 person

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