Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Future [of döner kebab] Is Now

We Thermals love to eat. We really, really, really love food. Tour, for us, is just a succession of meals and snacks with some incidental rock shows squeezed in. Long drives between cities, no matter what continent we are on, MUST be punctuated by snack breaks every two hours or so.

A post-show meal is a necessity almost every night--rocking really takes it out of us. I am a person who needs to have a full stomach to fall asleep; Hutch is this way too. Kathy, Anna [sound engineer], Baptiste [tour manager], and our rotating merch beauties [Audrey, Tui, Myrria] are also big lovers of deliciousness.

In Europe and the UK, everything shuts down at about 8pm. They simply haven't heard of late night dining over there--it's about as unthinkable as having cold and hot water mixed in the same tap! So, after the show, we often feel S.O.L. for a yummy treat. There is one blessed exception to this rule--Kebab/falafel shops! Thank Allah for these places, for these Middle Eastern businessmen who understand the value of a quick, warm, salty meal at midnight or 2 am, and the irresistible allure of a rotating, sweating cone of meat under orange heat lamps in the front window.

The proprietors of döner shops are always fun people--they nearly always speak some English no matter what country you're in, they have a stern, no-B.S. approach to customer service, and they always think Americans are the most ridiculous and hilarious thing they've ever seen.

We've had so many good times in döner kebab shops!
  • Madrid, Spain, December 2008: After playing the Primavera Sound festival, Kathy, Hutch, and I hit up the falafel shop between the venue and our hotel. Delicious falafel sandwiches ensued. The shop was closing down but the owners let us stay and eat while they lit cigarettes and bantered with their buddies who were hanging out. After about ten minutes, the ceiling-mounted TV's switched from infomercials to awkward Greek-god themed porn!
  • London, England, the same tour, December 2008: After a college show at Kings College London, where the only food was cold cheese-and-cucumber sandwiches in those little triangular plastic packages from Tesco, we were HUNGRY. The front desk girl at our hotel, across from the King's Cross tube station, told us we might find a falafel shop open a few blocks away. We walked through the bitter English cold and found this warm, savory oasis of deliciousness. They had some bumpin Middle Eastern jamz playing, and the three of us (being the only three customers at that hour) started our own little dance party while we waited for our order. The guys behind the counter thought this was hilarious. They pumped up the jams and started dancing with us! Rad. We try to go back to that shop every time we're in London.
  • Brighton, England, June 2009: After the last show of our UK tour with the lovely Sketches, we all convened on the beach with beers and rowdy attitudes. Hutch and I, hungry as ever, went in search of a dining establishment open at this late hour. Of course, kebab to the rescue! It was a weird, slightly impersonal "fast-food" chain-style place, but still delicious. And they served french fries with your falafel sandwich, which was awesome. While we waited for our food, our entertainment was observing the last ragged stragglers of the local nightlife, drunken blokes with designer jeans and awkward haircuts, and the hilariously deadpan way the kebab shop workers dealt with them.
  • Paris, France, October 2009: Hutch and I, again scavenging for a late night meal, found that the only thing open near our hotel was a döner surprise. We enjoyed a delicious, cheap, greasy meal (again accompanied by french fries). As we were paying, I noticed a plate of long, skinny chili peppers on the counter. I pantomimed eating one with an inquiring look on my face (since these falafel bros didn't speak a word of English and we, being red-blooded Americans, of course don't speak a word of any other language). The guys laughed at me and tried to tell me it was too hot, and that I shouldn't eat one. Well, I had to show them who's macho--I popped the longest one in my mouth and chewed it up with a smile! Only after we left the shop did my eyes start watering, and I began hyperventilating.
Good times. I look forward to a lot more falafel sandwiches in the future. I was excited to learn today that the döner experience is about to get a lot more futuristic! I'm so glad to know that the Germans are working hard to ensure that every slice of döner meat will now be perfectly uniform and never touched by human hands! I give you...The döner-slicing robot!!!

Hutch has been so inspired by our kebab experiences that he is planning to open a kebab cart in Portland. He's going to call it The Oregon Döner. Don't tell him, but I've already placed an order for the kebab-bot as his cart-warming gift.



The Coroner said...

This joint's nice, but it's not a cart. -

Jason Quigley said...

if you need a fix while at home, there is a tasty doner kebab shop downtown!