Knowing how to order a kebab sounds like something that should be easy. You decide what you want, you ask for it. Simple.
I went to buy a kebab the other night. It had been a rather boozy evening and I hadn’t had time for dinner. Kebab shops are funny places. They are the best of times, and the worst of times. Hilarious 3am party postmortems, or moments of consolation for that friend that just got dumped and messy, or that time one New Years Eve…
I once lost my favourite coat and my new woolly hat at a really crappy party. The upshot of it being that at 3am on the 1st of January, I sat hunched, tears streaming down my face and dripping on to my barely-touched kebab. It was winter, two degrees. I shivered in my little sheer party top. “I’m coooooooooldddd” I had wailed inconsolably as a few bleary eyed gents looked awkwardly on. By a fortunate turn of events, the coat made it’s way back to me the next day. We were permanently black-listed from the bar we were in, but that’s another story.
Fast forward to last Wednesday night. I am standing in line behind a couple that are ordering. “I’ll have some salad, with some lamb, and just a small amount of pitta bread on the side” the man says.
“I’m sorry, you can have a salad, or you can have the pitta wrap with salad, we don’t do things on the side,” says the man serving kebabs – let’s call him Kebab Man.
“He means he want’s a pitta wrap with lamb and salad,” The man’s girlfriend chimes in. “If i’m getting that, shouldn’t I get the salad on the side?” The man asks confusedly as they move to the side themselves.
“Excuse me!” two girls have popped in from outside “You know the large chips we have ordered? Can we get them in two separate boxes?”
“No, I’m sorry,” Kebab Man replies. “The large chips get served in a large box, and the small chips get served in a small box.”
The girl’s face falls with disappointment. “But we need the large chips that we are sharing in two small boxes, because I have different tastes to what she has, and she wants one sauce and I want another sauce and we don’t want the sauces on the chips that we are sharing to be mixed you know, because we have different tastes and everything.”
He sighs. “Okay, I’ll do it for you this once, but that’s not how we do it.”
Then, “Excuse me lady,” Kebab Man calls to the two women waiting in the corner, “What sauce do you want on your lamb wrap? Do you want chilli or garlic?”
“I’ll have mint sauce” she replies. “We don’t have mint sauce, we only have chili or garlic…” “Oh… both then”. She takes her wrap and leaves.
He looks at me and I smile sympathetically. “Can I please have a regular falafel wrap, no onion, everything else?” He nods. “TWO LAMB WRAPS!” he yells to the room.
The couple step forward to collect their wraps. “I thought we were getting salad on the side, but there’s only salad in my wrap,” I hear the guy say as they leave.
One large chips in two small containers land on the counter and the two girls with different tastes have materialised from outside.
“What sauce do you want?” Kebab Man asks. “I want mayonnaise,” one of them says. “I want mayonnaise too,” says the other. He looks at them. “But, I also want salt.” she adds.
“You want your falafel open?” He asks me. “Yes, please” – “And you can take a drink from the fridge too,” he smiles. “Thank you!” I say. I scuttle to the fridge, grab my free drink and wave him goodbye as I leave.
I am walking down the street clutching my Coke like a badge of honour. It feels like the real life equivalent of getting a gold star sticker on my homework. I know how to order a kebab. It’s delicious. I’ve been rewarded – and found a new favourite late-night kebab place. In that moment, I couldn’t complain. Life was just that good.