Kebabs: Greek or Turkish?

2 AM May 4, 2006

For marketing purposes, Australian fast-food outlets propagate the fiction that kebabs are an exotic dish, imported from the north-west Mediterranean. There is however, some dispute as to the kebab’s precise nationality.

Here in my home town of Sydney, kebabs are Turkish. Eight hundred kilometres away in Melbourne, they call “kebabs”, “souvlaki” and think they are Greek. Somewhere between here and there, kebabs change provenance. A colleague from Albury-Wodonga confirmed that kebabs are still Greek on the New South Welsh/Victorian border, so where is the changeover point? And what about north and west of Sydney?

Update: I forgot to say. This post is Andy’s fault.

By alang | # | Comments (6)
(Posted to Stuff and Rants)


At 05:11, 04 May 2006 Pete wrote:

...and if you explore across to Adelaide (or, in fact, Bankstown) you will find them known as Gyros (or, occassionally, Yeeros - which I believe is a Greek term - but only judging from the Greekness of the shops selling them in B'town).

Of course, if you go to a Lebanese shop you will find them on the menu as Shawourma (sp?) - but only if they haven't bowed to the weight of public ignorance.

In origins, I'd guess they are related. As dishes I think they would all be considered rather distinct. However, as fast-foods, I suspect the weight of public expectation has forced some normalisation of the contents upon us.

Of course, we are referring to "Doner" Kebab, as apposed to Shish-K....

If you want to have trouble not laughing while ordering - try going the US where Kebab is often written (and pronounced) as Kabob.

Meanwhile, my English mother-in-law cannot pronounce them as anything other than Keeeeebab - which, being mother-in-law related, tends to be a highly annoying pronunciation.

At 01:46, 05 May 2006 Andy Todd wrote:

Wherever it came from, yesterday's lunch kebab was very nice, the taste stayed with me long into the night.

Where I come from Doner Kebabs are an exclusively Greek (Cypriot) thing, although their proximity to actual food is always suspect. This is probably why they are only ever eaten in a drunken haze after a night spent in the pub. It's practically obligatory midnight munchy food.

I've only ever eaten kebabs sober since I moved to Australia.

At 07:36, 18 May 2006 A Turk wrote:

*This comment was updated by alang to remove some odd chars.*

"Doner Kebab", actually spelled "Doner Kebap", is Turkish and not just from Cyprus. Doner means "spinning" and "Kebap" means "grilled meat" in Turkish. If you've ever seen it being made, you'll know that it's an apt description.

Shawarma is the same stuff, though the spices could be different, but there are regional differences even in Turkey as I'm sure there are throughout the rest of the Middle East.

The Greeks call it "Gyros" (pronounced Yeeros). There's that reference to spinning again.

The original post was about how the provenance of these things change depending on where you go. I've noticed that the Greeks seem to have almost an inferiority complex when it comes to this stuff. Coffee that is known the world over as "Turkish coffee" is known as "Greek coffee" in Greek restaurants. Don't make the mistake of ordering Turkish coffee in a Greek restaurant because you're likely to be met with an ugly glare and corrected sharply that it's Greek coffee at the very least. Who knows if they spit in it before they bring it out as well? If Greeks feel that their identity is so closely tied to meat on a stick or a roasted bean, indulge them and call it whatever they like. Who cares who thought of it first? It's not like putting meat on a stick and grilling it ranks up there with the Theory of Relativity or something. Kebap, shawarma, gyros, it's all good.

At 16:28, 13 Jun 2006 Viking wrote:

The reason for the disagreements and hostility over the names of foods and coffees IS Cyprus. Both nationalities claim Cyprus so there can be no accord between them.

At 12:56, 01 Dec 2007 Chris wrote:

ehhhh Viking, i think you need a history lesson.

cyprus is historically greek, the greek goddess athrodite (sp?) is from there for example.

turkey invaded cyprus in the mid 70's and now the turks have a small strip of cyprus to the north which is an unrecognized state by every nation in the world except for turkey who call it northern cyprus. the turks of cyprus and the cypriots (greeks) are separated by military who guard the borders.

if turks claim cyprus (and any of its history) to themselves than its plain to see that the UN and EU would laugh at them, mabye even the US too but depending on what the US can gain from the turks of course

just to put it plainly for you, cyprus is cypriot, cypriots are greek...anyone who identifies as cypriot is greek, you will never hear a turk say "i am cypriot" coz that would mean he is calling himself greek

At 13:16, 01 Dec 2007 Chris wrote:

oh and the turks dont claim cyprus, they only claim the northern part which they (the barbaric mongoloids) invaded. basically its like someone invading your home and murdering your parents and than claiming they have a justified reason to now own that home

but anyway, this isnt the biggest issue for the cypriots anyway. its not like palestine and israel

northern cyprus doesnt have anything to do with anything cypriot, politics and government positions is one example, another is they dont represent cyprus in anything at all, they are inelligble to represent cyprus in football for example.............not even in chess.


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