The Kebab Conundrum
There’s nothing like a big, greasy, ghastly kebab late at night after a few beers with the lads. Or, at least, that used to be the case when I was both younger AND a meat eater. Sadly, I am no longer either of these things.
The story of how a hard core, long term, steak-for-breakfast meat eater like me went vegetarian by accident well over a decade ago is well known in certain circles but there’s no doubt that I am far better off for doing it. Not only did I lose a lot of excess weight that I managed to keep off ever since, but I feel better and have discovered new foods I would never have even bothered trying because, well, meat.
In fact, it’s true to say I never think about eating meat these days or even consider it a possibility. Even bacon sandwiches, the so-called ‘corrupter of vegetarians’ and former staple of mine have so far failed to have any impact. I genuinely have no desire or interest.
Unless, of course, I find myself in a sightly unsteady state outside a kebab van at some ungodly hour in the morning after a pub crawl with the lads.
Now, it should already be clear that this is no longer a common occurrence. I am, after all, a respected professional and a family man. I have responsibilities, businesses, podcasts and clients to look after. But, sometimes, just sometimes, it all works out that a group of us ends up having a few beers and thinking we’re a decade or two younger than we are.
And when that happens, we often find ourselves at one of those kebab vans at the side of the road begging the owner to take our money in return for something supremely unhealthy that we’ll chew on as we stagger home.
And then it starts. The self-justification, that is.
Now, it should be understood that kebabs are ghastly creations. Aside from the often dubious quality of the ‘meat’ itself, the fat content is so high it should come with a health warning in the same way that cigarettes do. The ‘salad’ is always brown and stringy and anything else that finds its way in there is probably not to be considered with a sober mind.
And speaking of which, never EVER eat one when not under the influence.
And yet, even though all the ingredients are wrong, in a post beer world, the sum of all parts is perfection. A kebab is not only justifiable, it become essential.
And anyway, I’m a grown man. I’m half a century old. It’s not like I have to ask my dad for permission or anything. I can do what I want. If I wish to consume a kebab from a particular road side establishment at two o’clock in the morning, despite the fact that my body has not known any meat for over thirteen years, I damn well can. YOU can’t stop me.
These are the thoughts that are running through my head as the queue shuffles along and the banter continues between the group as it has done for several decades. One by one, my friends and colleagues reach the window and the familiar lines ring out:
“Large doner, extra chili please”
“Large doner, no salad, extra onions, extra chili please”
And so on, until, finally, the man in the van turns to me and offers that line used universally by all roadside cafe vendors across the country:
“What do you want, mate?”
I know what I’m going to say. It’s going to be a large doner kebab, with extra onions but no chili sauce. I want to taste and enjoy that awful greasy nastiness to full effect — the chili would simply get in the way.
Who cares if I’ll feel terrible tomorrow as my body tries to remember how it used to break this stuff down? Who cares if my cholesterol spikes for a while? Who cares if I come home stinking of kebab meat and have a few inevitable grease stains on my shirt? Life is short! Life is for living! I might be dead tomorrow — live for now! Have a kebab! Yeaaaaaaah!
I come out of my mini self talk to see that the kebab van man is still looking at me and expecting an answer. My mind is made up and with the supreme confidence of a man completely committed to his answer I reply:
“Fried onion rings please, mate”
Maybe next time.
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