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Hungry Germans happily adopt Turkish döner

The Local · 28 Oct 2011, 15:26

Published: 28 Oct 2011 15:26 GMT+02:00

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The meaty meals are also the basis of a €2 billion euro industry in Germany, employing thousands of people across the country.

Historians say the döner kebab is probably hundreds of years old, originally developed in the Turkish province of Erzurum. But it was not until the 1970s that the thinly sliced meat treat exploded in popularity through Germany, and then Europe.

For many people in Germany, the döner has so dominated the country's fast food industry that it is no longer even considered foreign.

“Of course, the döner shop is part of Turkish roots in Germany, but for my 16-year-old son, the döner is a part of German culture,” Michael Hofmann, an expert in Turkish-German relations, told the DPA news agency this week.

It was Turkish immigrants in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district who decided to take the döner kebab – traditionally served on plate with rice – and stuff it into a bread pouch with salad and assorted toppings.

Since then, the snack has won fans across the world, even spawning its own annual convention and trade organisation called the Association of Turkish Döner Producers in Europe, based in Berlin.

Today German-style döners can be found everywhere from the United States to South Africa, the organisation’s head Tarkan Tasyumruk told The Local.

“It’s such a versatile food – everyone loves it,” he said. “It’s flexible and tastes great.”

Tasyumruk, who runs his own döner topping and meat production business near Berlin, is a tireless advocate for the food.

He rattles off the numbers: There are 16,000 döner snack shops in Germany. The industry employs 60,000 people nationwide.

Most of the ingredients in German döners, such as meat, vegetables and sauces are produced domestically by about 100 firms, Tasyumruk said – and many also export ingredients to döner sellers around Europe.

The largely independent, often family-owned businesses serving the donors use more than 122,000 tonnes of meat each year to serve millions of hungry Germans customers.

But the story of the döner is more than a tasty treat, experts say - it can be seen as a cultural symbol of sorts for the country’s Turkish-German community, one that is helping perceptions of them evolve for the better according to at least one academic.

“Maybe on a smaller scale it might be changing the way Turks are viewed by the German population,” said Dirk Halm, an expert at Essen’s Centre for Turkish Studies.

Although the success of the döner would not change some Germans’ general aversion to a multicultural society, he said, “It demonstrates a positive aspect of the immigrant group.”

At the local level, however, individual döner sellers are not thinking about the food’s widespread reach or its cultural appeal.

Instead they wonder how to get more customers to visit their shops. In this highly competitive but low-margin business, every euro counts, said Berrak Kervan who has been selling döner from his mobile cart around Berlin for the past three years.

On a recent day in the capital’s Kreuzberg district, Kervan said he knew the secret to being a successful salesman: Offer fresh ingredients and the highest quality meats.

Story continues below…

“Everyone comes to me, Germans and Turks, because they know I have only the best,” he said. “Selling döner is something to be proud of.”

Moises Mendoza



The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:08 October 28, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
¦quot;Selling döner is something to be proud of.¦quot;

talk about lowering he bar ! .....

I am sure Turks contribution to the German economy and way of life is way more than just introducing the Döner and The Local would have been more inspired to report on that .
16:25 October 28, 2011 by raandy
I like the Döner but rarely eat one,,to me it is mystery meat, I have read to many horror stories about the meat in the past.
16:59 October 28, 2011 by Deutschlandnazi
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:10 October 28, 2011 by Deutschlandnazi
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:00 October 28, 2011 by expatriarch
I don't have the time or interest to do the author's work to find the details, but the döner kebab was invented in Berlin by a long-time German of Turkish decent. Up until fairly recently you couldn't even find one in Turkey if you wanted to.

I guess some might argue that he had Turkish parents, but where do you draw the line. For me, you are {fill in country} or an invention/product is from the place that allowed you or it to succeed based on the environment and the inputs. It's kind of like the tennis players, or any athlete for that matter, that spent/spends practically all their lives in Florida training center, but then go and represent "their country" in a competition or the Olympics.

Additionally, as with many foods, it is not impossible to make a döner out of "mystery meat" but, that would qualify as a bad one. The best döner are not made of any kind of pressed meat, nor are they overly greasy, and are something to die for. A big factor distinguishing a good döner and a bad one is also the bread.
20:32 October 28, 2011 by catjones
expatriarch...yep the germans invented the doner too.

Maybe the local could write a story about what the germans didn't invent.....a short story.
22:39 October 28, 2011 by Englishted
The headline could also say "fat Germans eat anything"

Judging from the take off of fast food in general.

Before you jump down my neck , it could say a least one Englishman has also fallen in to the trap .
00:16 October 29, 2011 by vonSchwerin
I wish there was a way to make the döner healthy. Too bad.
02:15 October 29, 2011 by ddorfer
Döner macht schöner!
04:48 October 29, 2011 by saverio
My best memory of Berlin this past summer in one word--Mustafa's
10:23 October 30, 2011 by nolibs
Another Pro-Turk article in TheLocal. I see an agenda here.

Why not an article on pizza and the Italian's contribution to it?

That being said, I love the Döner, and it seems to be the best tasting here in Germany. The English even screw up this dish.
14:59 October 30, 2011 by bella 74
I guess this article is just a joke for making people laugh? Isn't it?

German-Turks and being proud of making doner which comes from "Erzurum"? Hahhahhaa... Which was invented not until the 1970s?? You are really funny. Who makes this stories up? I should translate and read them in Istanbul : )))

Or, you really have no idea on geography of Turkey and its history, or you know nothing about eastern-Mediterranean gastronomy?

Yes, I am Turk, but not an immigrant... And I am sooo surprised to read such articles about a country which is really not known : )

Mutated kebap and its adventures in Germany...
13:33 November 2, 2011 by freechoice
Döner is Turkey's best gift to Germany!

God Bless Turkey!!!
14:48 November 2, 2011 by ValP
What's wrong with kebabs??? Actually, I think that döners taste really good. And who said meat, bread, salad, vegetables and sauce are unhealthy??
22:01 November 4, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
I love Doeners!! I eat them almost every day. In Berlin, you can't go 50 meters without running into a Doener Bistro. That's consistency!
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