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B - 2 : Vertical BBQ

Are you as much a fan of Shawarma as I am? Good, lean meat with some pickled vegetables in on open sandwich? It is the only fast food I actually eat - albeit only occasionally given my passion for cooking.

Shawarma with Döner Kebab

Döner Kebab is one of these classic foods that everybody knows but nobody has an idea where it comes from. Literature mentiones it for the first time in the 18th century in a military context. Would be quite interesting to learn what this context actually was but my internet source is silent about it.

Döner Kebab - from Arab turning whilst grilling

Döner Kebab is a revolutionary way of preparing meat. Instead of grilling it horizontally in big chunks over an open fire or charcoal as we do when barbequeing, the meat is sliced first, then put on a rotating iron rod and then grilled vertically. This way, several of these meat stacks can be grilled at the same time around the same fire. Very efficient way of preparing meat for a lot of people. But who were these people in the 18th century? Definitely not farmers or herdsmen. They had meat once a month - if any at all. It must have ben courtiers from the Ottoman court or soldiers of the Ottoman Army.

Janissars - the shock troops of the Ottoman Army

Whilst I have no proof, I am inclined to believe that Doöner Kebab was invented by Turkish troops. It is a well known fact that a soldier needs about a kilo of meat per day to maintain strengh and endurance. When in the field, the Ottoman Army usually marched during the day and camped at night. Their main meal was eaten in the evening when lots of hungry soldiers had to be served at the same time. What better way than grilling meat vertically around a few camp fires? We probably won’t find out before our trip starts and our chef can’t tell us because he can not make Döner Kebab on the boat. We lack the equipment. But we can debate and speculate about it every day!

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