In a world where you are supposed to be eating “clean” (a term that I have struggled to understand and one that apparently has nothing to do with showering before each meal) I find myself often reflecting on how much I miss the humble Kebab Van.
I grew up in Oxford, a City with a Council that seems to be universally loathed but one nonetheless that has permitted a quite extraordinary number of permits for Kebab Vans. Depart from almost any bar or pub in Oxford and within around 500 metres from whichever direction you walk, you will stumble across the glorious lights of a Kebab Van; a veritable manger of hope for the drunk and hungry masses. Like a friendly Inn Keeper upon arrival you are greeted with a familiar call of welcome by the Kebab Owner, calling you his mate and asking what he can get you?
From that moment onwards your adult self turns into a kid in a sweet shop; the options, while in the cold light of day limited, when inebriated are limitless. Any variety of meat combinations, sauces, salad options, chips, beans, curry sauce all served with an immediacy that leave the branded high street pretenders such as McDonalds in their wake. Within minutes you are scoffing down on a multi textured meal that both warms and and delights your body and not only satisfies it but also begins the bodies fight back against the hours you spent poisoning it.
Not only is the Kebab a delight, but it is also the first line of defence against the dreaded hangover and in that respect not only should Kebab Vans be given prime spots across all cities but they should also be given the Pharmaceutical Green Cross to light up on top of their Vans. In the same way that the noble St Bernard is the saviour of the Alps, the indomitable Kebab Van does the same in Cities across the width and breath of Great Britain.
Sadly, where I currently reside there are no Kebab Vans; instead we have Shawarma Stalls. These are to Kebab Vans what Blur is to Oasis (the acceptable public face of the genuine article) While no doubt tasty and satisfying these stalls lack the identity of the real thing and remind me of the mock British and Irish pubs you see around the globe; good imitations but lacking that secret ingredient of the genuine article. So as a rule, whenever home, I make sure that I take the time to visit my favourite Kebab Van and take the time to enjoy a gorgeous Kebab. When back at this particular Kebab Van it is not only the afore mentioned experience that delights but the sense of naughtiness that buying and eating a Kebab provides when surrounded by such a number of health conscious shops and the modern messaging that emanates from the numerous supermarkets that surround you. To be indulging in good, cheap naughty food, every now and again, while looking at the sanctimonious face of Jamie Oliver staring back at you promoting whatever new cook book he is promoting or whatever children’s cereal character he is trying to ban is almost as enjoyable as the food itself.
And so not only is the humble Kebab Van providing medicinal support to the drunk masses in the evening but it is also holding two fingers up to the large multinationals that surround it on the high street. The Kebab Van was hipster before hipsterdom had been invented and they are as British as Fish and Chips. Long may they continue and be allowed to operate and God help Jamie Oliver if he directs his puritanical zeal against these bastions of entrepreneurial spirit; the kebab van is a national treasure.