As this blog seeks to ask a question as big and meaty as “which country is best?”, it’s probably worth beginning with a topic of gravity and importance. So we turn to the issue of kebabs.
A night out in my old home of Sheffield often ends at Pizza Mania – a pokey takeaway serving the student suburbs that boasts a coveted three-star hygiene rating by the city council (Generally Satisfactory). After a heavy night at Corporation or Space, nothing quite hits the spot like a Mania chicken kebab. Carefully marinated in liquid, it’s seared in front of your eyes. It lies on the hotplate, sizzling for 15 minutes, at which point you’re ready to walk home because 15 minutes is too long when you’re drunk and hungry. However it’s worth the wait – the marinade shines through and the substantial naan bread proves a decent accompaniment to the chicken.
So not a bad effort from the UK – just £4 will buy you a tasty (if slow) kebab that is presumably cooked with due regard to food hygiene regulations.
If hunger strikes in Lyon’s old town, you’re in luck – there’s a kebab house across from the tube station, imaginatively titled Restaurant Kebab. But prepare for a shock because despite the picture of a doner at the front of the shop, French kebabs are typically made with veal. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it – the first time I went I was smashed and loved it, but second time round I was less certain. One thing I did enjoy was the bread – a decent chunky pitta that won’t fall apart. Another French innovation is the kebab with chips – for an extra fifty cents you can get a few chips wedged in the kebab for ultimate convenience. To top it off, the night doesn’t even need to end – they’ll sell you a can of Heineken to go with your kebab, and there’s no arguing with that.
There is however one big problem. Last night (a Saturday) I felt like a kebab on the way home. Imagine the horror, then, as I walked past to see them switch the lights off – it was barely 1am. I continued up the hill to find the local kebab house closed as well. Disaster.
It’s a toughie this and certainly close run… on balance I think I have to give it to Britain. In all honesty, I’ll have probably had a few pints if I’m getting a kebab, and a Mania kebab does the job when the French kebab houses have closed for the night.
1-0 to the UK