Nutrition: Doner Kebab is 50 years old – much more expensive in many places

This culinary and cultural relationship is eventful and has been going on for 50 years: Germany is a country of doner kebab. But a crisis is now looming.

Once with everything please. sentence, advertisement. Four words are enough to seal a deal in a kebab shop. Most of the time, the man behind the desk smiles friendly, nods, and goes to work.

Germans love doner kebabs. The stuffed flatbread business has been so successful in this country that the donor kebab industry generates more sales than McDonald’s or Subway. or both. 550 tons of Doner Kebab is eaten daily. In Germany, 1,000 tons are produced per day and billions are earned in the process. But even though Doner Kebab celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with great acclaim, the court disputes substance. The price is frustrating.

Although cheap in the German average, doner kebab can no longer be economically produced. Gürsel Ürbel recently reported this to the public. Erbil is the president of the Association of Turkish Doner Kebab Manufacturers in Europe (ATDID). It’s hard to imagine what would happen if Doner King, Doner Masters, or Ali Doner Paradise suddenly disappeared. But first things first. Before the existential concerns of döner kebab can be accommodated, it must be clarified how döner kebab was able to become a rotisserie and hunting skewer for the Germans.

Döner – the culinary miracle of immigration

Because the stuffed flatbread is like the miracle of immigration in Germany. But how did the meal served by Turkish immigrants come to exist in this way? Why is stuffed flatbread so successful in a country that also makes curries, fish rolls and meatloaf? The history of the doner kebab is more complex than it might suggest. Rather, it is a story of German-Turkish relations and can be as rich in details as sometimes ordering kebabs: with or without onions? Hot or not hot? Regular sauce or with extra garlic, no tomatoes please. But more meat! Meat doner kebab with falafel, please.

This brings us back to what is actually the hottest place for stuffed flat bread, Doner Kebab Restaurant. Or rather kebab shops. This is where the product originated. However, doner kebab experts in this country do not fully agree on who exactly was the inventor. One thing is for sure: Berlin is Germany’s kebab hub. To be more precise, Berlin-Kreuzberg. The doner kebab was invented there in the 1970s, or at least sold to customers in its current form. And so not in Turkey.

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Doner kebab is one of the healthiest fast foods

German author and kebab expert Eberhard Seidl agrees. The journalist has been dealing with the origin of doner kebab for a long time and has done so again recently in his entertainment book “Donner”. Turkish-German cultural history (März-Verlag, 257 pages, 20) Act. Eberhard also refutes what ATDID declared on its homepage and in public: Kader Norman was the first vendor to offer doner kebab in 1972. Unfortunately, Seidel says, it can’t be turned back.

Instead, Doner Kebab as we know it now gradually emerged and is the result of a creative process that has grown over the years. Turkish workers began selling it when they were forced to secure their livelihoods and that of families who came later in the politically difficult 1970s. So Doner Kebab is not the brainchild of one creative chef. It is a result of the Turkish spirit of invention and survival in Germany.

Halit (left) and Halep at Emeryn Grill in Berlin prepare doner kebabs. It is said that it was invented fifty years ago.

Photo: Jörg Carstensen, dpa

However, kebab is probably one of the healthiest fast food dishes. That’s only because, on average, it contains a lot more vegetables than its competitors in the fast food scene. Plus, because it’s a balanced meal, it has mass and therefore also takes up stomach volume, explains environmental nutritionist Julia Zeichner. However, the following applies: how well-balanced the kebab is for the customer. The meat and the sauce are the two ingredients that make the main difference in quality. Is the sauce homemade? Where does the meat come from? In addition, explains Zeichner, Ayran, a popular drink for kebabs, consists only of water, salt, and milk. This is probably healthier than a cola with a burger.

In Germany alone there are 16,000 snack bars

The doner kebab was initially a product of low-income people, probably also because of the financial difficulties faced by the inventors. It’s different today: kebab restaurants are now everywhere. In Germany alone there are more than 16,000 snack bars. It doesn’t matter if you are a schoolboy, student or a millionaire – Doner Kebab has become a food that appeals to all walks of life. Millionaire is an understatement even. In fact, he should be called a billionaire. Because perhaps the most surprising commitment to stuffed flatbreads came from Elon Musk. Exactly, the car with the Tesla cars, the Twitter deal, and the flight into space. During one of his land trips to Germany, he tried it, doner kebab – and learned to love it.

Doner kebab has also long reached the luxury sector. And this is, of course, in Berlin at the Hotel Adlon: slices of veal, truffle cream, spiced cabbage, red onions, tomatoes, flatbread. The hotel advertises these ingredients for its luxurious Doner Kebab. A dish costs 26 euros.

The unit price should actually be around 7.30€ today

In general costs. Thus the price-performance problem of kebabs was initially explained. The national average for a doner kebab is between four and six euros. If ATDID has its way, the price must be at least 7.30 euros in order to be able to cover the very increased production costs. About six months ago, Olber said, the situation has been very difficult. According to the chairman, those who do not collapse due to these costs will likely collapse in the fall. Because it is expected that there will be a waiting for the minimum wage to be increased to twelve euros an hour.

Working with Doner Kebab is no longer so easy. Well, maybe it never was. Overshadowed by scandals for many years. Skewer mixed with cheaper pork, there were food scandals and there was so much competition that the price went down.

How was the Doner Kebab fame saved?

In 1989 came the dissolution of the doner kebab, or as Seidl wrote: “The reputation of the doner kebab was saved.” At that time, the so-called public opinion in Berlin regarding the doner kebab was bypassed. Perhaps a step is still missing so that the product can call itself a truly German product. What would Germany be without laws and rules? Anyway, the doner kebab has also been associated with the purity law since then. And since then, it has become clear: not everything can even be called kebab.

A maximum of 60 percent ground beef is allowed – otherwise it’s not a doner kebab. It may contain lamb, mutton, veal or beef. Do not mix anything but salt, spices, eggs, onions, oil, milk and yogurt. All deviations from the law of purity of kebabs must be identified. There are, for example, “a rotating skewer made of finely ground beef,” “chicken doner kebab” or a short and sweet ground beef skewer with breadcrumbs, a portion of finely ground beef. So keep your eyes open in a restaurant snacks.

Today you can say with confidence: Germany is a country of doner kebab. And somehow without the kebabs, we wouldn’t really be Germany.

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