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Posts from the ‘Food’ Category

Food of Austria – Kebabs

Full disclosure: kebabs actually didn’t originate in Austria, or even in Europe. However, I would not be doing justice to myself if I didn’t start this new series off without my favorite food common in Vienna. And common it is – kebab joints and stands seem to be more popular than hamburgers or even traditional Austrian Würstel (sausage) stands. If you’ve never tried a kebab, you may think that’s strange. How can a Turkish delicacy become more common in Europe than a lot of European food?

Because it’s amazing, that’s why.

Below is what’s technically called a Döner Kebab. The Döner part specifies that the meat (most commonly lamb) is roasted on a vertical, rotating spit. This process has other names, like the Arabic shawarma or the Greek gyro, but the Turkish/Austrian hybrid is its own special masterpiece. The lamb is shaved off the spit, packed into a warm pita roll or other flatbread, and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, yoghurt sauce and chili.

Döner Kebab

Döner Kebab

Other versions exist, with maybe extra vegetables like cabbage or a different sauce, but what I just described is the classic. It’s the one you’ll find at every kebab stand in Vienna, of which you find a ton. You never need to walk more than five minutes before you come across another, and at some subway or tram stops, 2-4 stands are sometimes grouped all together, all competing to serve the best combination of meat, vegetables and bread.

How does it taste? I find it best on a cold day, when the warm bread and meat are accented by the spiciness of the chili, but cooled down by the tomatoes and yoghurt sauce. You may think I should be ashamed that my favorite Viennese food is actually Turkish, but Turkish culture and cuisine – most notably the kebab – have become so ingrained in Viennese culture the past 50-100 years that buying a kebab is just as normal for an Austrian as buying a Schnitzel or a Käsekrainer (I’ll get to those later).

Dürüm Kebab

Dürüm Kebab

There is one other common version, in case you want all the insides without the sometimes ungainly pita flatbread. A Dürüm kebab is the same meat and vegetables but instead wrapped inside a Lavash, a very soft, thin bread that is basically a tortilla. Also good, with an advantage of sometimes being able to hold a bit more meat and vegetables.

I’m very strategic about my kebabs. I’m going to go eat one now.

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Back To The Start

Check out this video (an ad for Chipotle), for a couple of good reasons.

1. The music is excellent and interesting: a Willie Nelson cover of a Coldplay song (“The Scientist”).
2. The stop-motion animation is ridiculously awesome.
3. It has a great, though controversial, message about modern agriculture, organic food and sustainability.

Detractors (according to my quick scan of YouTube comments) say this is not an accurate description of our modern agriculture system. But, according to my viewings of numerous documentaries on the subject like Food Inc. and The Future of Food, the video seems to get it pretty spot on (though no one is claiming that perfectly round pigs actually get crushed into perfect cubes…oh wait.)

What do you think? Does eating organic matter? Or is it all a load of crock?

The Best Show On TV

I am currently watching what may be my favorite show, ever. No, not Shark Week, and not Lost or To Catch A Predator (although I recently discovered that nothing is as awesome or awkward as a Caught Predator).

No, it’s a show known only to a few, because it’s really obscure. But it’s great. The host is funny, talented and edgy. It is a travel show, a food show and a reality show. It’s just darn awesome.

It’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel.
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