Sehnsucht nach Doener Kebab Posted by on Mar 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Move over Big Mac, the Döner Kebab is here to stay. For those of you who have never kosteten (tasted) a Döner Kebab, it is the be-all and end-all of street food—a salty, savory wrap-like meal made up of Fladenbrot (flatbread) gefüllt (filled) with juicy lamb, Kopfsalat (lettuce), Kohl (cabbage), Zwiebeln (onions), Gurken (cucumbers) and Tomaten (tomatoes), all served with your choice of white sauce, Tzatziki or red sauce, sharfe Soβe (spicy sauce). It is everything you wish the American fast-food hamburger could be, köstlich (delicious). Those of you, who have tasted Döner, know its culinary powers: the crave for Döner after a long night of tanzen (dancing); the thought of a savory sizzling Döner slowly creeping its way into your mind; or the desire for one induced by large quantities of beer. But whatever ignites the fire inside of you for Döner, You know your tastes buds and stomach will be dankbar (thankful).

The last time I ate a German Döner Kebab, was five years ago. Since my Rückfahrt (return) to the United States, I have been auf der Suche (in search of) the best tasting Döner Kebab diesseits (this side) of the Atlantic. Obwohl (although), a brief stint in New York City introduced me to the Shawarma and the Gyro by proprietors from Turkish and Greek street carts, the German version of Döner does not exist in the U.S.

Döner is ubiquitous and delicious across Germany. It became popular in the early 80’s, two decades after the first generation of Turkish Gastarbeiter (guest workers) arrived. Though Germany and Turkey have had a long standing relationship since the Ottoman Empire, it wasn’t until the 60’s and again in the mid-70s, after the German government invited foreign laborers as guest workers, or Gastarbeiter to help with der Wiederaufbau (reconstruction) of Germany after WWII, that it saw an influx in Turkish Immigrants. Both the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany had guest workers. Many of whom came from Italien (Italy), die Türkei (Turkey), Marokko (Marocco), Portugal (Portugal) and Jugoslawien (Yugoslavia). Part of the controversy and discussion revolves around the fact that the guest workers stayed in Germany and are now legally allowed to be there, though this was never intended. The road to integration continues to be anstrengend (exhausting, arduous), for a lack of better words. Many second and third generation German-Turks feel verfremdet (alienated) and/ or entfremdet (estranged) from mainstream culture and still struggle to find their footing in German society. But young people who have recently immigrated to Germany and England from Eastern Europe, Turkey, Asia and the Near East are certain they will find work and a better way of life here in the West.

I can’t testify to which part of the world it is better for someone to live in, but immigration and tolerance are issues that cross national borders.  An Artikel (article) in the L.A. Times discusses one attempt at integration in which “the Vocational School for Gastronomy and Nutrition here [Germany] is offering a six-month course that in July will award the first kebab diplomas, officially known as Meat Processing Doner Kebab Production Specialization.” It is a very aktuel (up-to-date) article on German-Turkish relations.

Der Kohl-cabbage

Die Gurken-cucumbers

Die Zwiebeln-onions

Der Kopfsalat-lettuce

Die Tomaten-tomatoes

Das Faldenbrot-flatbread


Die Rückfahrt-return

Auf der Suche-in search of

Diesseits-this side


Kosteten-tasted (pl) simple past, Third Person Plural

Tanzen-to dance

Der Wiederaufbau-reconstruction


Die Gastarbeiter-guest workers


Die Soβe-sauce



Der Artikel-article


Entfremdet -estranged

Anstrengend-exhausted, arduous



Die Türkei-Turkey

Die Italien-Italy


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  1. V.Quyen:

    Speaking from a learner of German, it would be much more helpful if the nouns are available in both its singular (plus its gender) and plural forms. Thank you so much. 🙂

  2. na:

    Die Italien-Italy ist not correct

    Italien (Land)
    Der Italiener (Mann)
    Die Italiener (Viele Menschen)
    Die Italienerin (Frau)
    Das italienische Essen

  3. Steve:

    I agree with V. Quyen: The singular, plural and gender would be great.

    I noticed:
    “An Artikel (artikel) in the L.A. Times” should be:
    “An Artikel (article) in the L.A. Times”


  4. B.:

    Just keep doing what you are doing. These whack jobs will next ask you for the Swiss variant where applicable.

    You are doing enough. We all really appreciate your work and read it “mit sosse”.

    B from the T.

  5. Komo:

    Thank You!

  6. Steve:

    Just to be clear (because of B from the T’s mildly confused comments), I didn’t mean to sound in any way critical. (I hope we can all agree that we want to learn accurately)

    I appreciate this blog and thanks for your efforts.

  7. kebab recipe:

    Just keep doing what you are doing. These whack jobs will next ask you for the Swiss variant where applicable.