Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kebab Pizza

“Eat my shit!” a man named Jukka screamed in a heavy Finnish accent. I think his name was Jukka. Someone kept saying, “United States of Jukka”. He was frantically nailing wood to an outhouse in a field in an effort to lock in a fat man who was equally frantically trying to get out. Pants down, he started crawling through the hole in the seat, getting covered in what Jukka had just suggested he eat, as they flooded the small room with tear gas. It was disgusting, it was uncalled for, it was playing loudly on the television while I was eating a Finnish kebob.

A little research revealed the show is called The Dudesons. Just so you know. I was eating in a new place on Narva Road in Tartu called Kebab Pizza. There can be no mistaking it—they sell kebabs and pizza. An interview I read with the owner revealed that he originally wanted to sell soup, too, but “Kebab Pizza Soup” wouldn’t fit on the sign.

The owner, Kristjan, said in the interview, “There are kebabs available in Tartu in a few places, but they’re not real. I don’t know if the seasoning is different or what, but something is wrong.” He also admits to having spent time in Finland (i.e. construction worker), and liked the kebabs there, so he decided to try out his own kebaberia in Tartu. And good for him! Honestly, I did enjoy my meal, and the price is right at three euros. He also had financial help in the form of several döners. Ha!

But I have to say I find it at least a bit odd he would use a Finnish kebab as his template. Kebabs are Turkish originally, specifically German Turkish, which was probably copied in Denmark and eventually made its way to Finland, and now on to Estonia. I had to remove a few pickles from my kebab.

As I studied the menu for the first time, I couldn’t quite figure out how this particular kebab enthusiast had decided to interpret an authentic kebob. The first thing I smelled when I walked through the door was ketchup, although I didn’t actually see or consume any. The kebab with freaks, first on the menu, seemed good. I asked about it.

“What is your kebab with freaks?” I asked.
—It’s a kebab, with freaks, Krista the waitress dryly replied.
“No bread?”
—We don’t serve leib here.
“No, I meant is it wrapped in a tortilla or something?” I pronounced “tortilla” correctly, the double ell pronounced like a wye.
—Of course it’s not in a tortilla, she corrected me with a double ell sound. It’s rolled in pita bread. It’s the kebabirull.
“Oh, ok. And what kind of sauces?” Please don’t be ketchup! Please don’t be ketchup! I silently prayed.
—Salad dressing and kebab sauce.
“Kebab sauce? What’s that?”
—It’s the stuff in this bottle.

She pointed to a bottle behind her that said, sure enough, “Kebab Sauce”. I ordered one. She said it would take about ten minutes. I was in no hurry, but I still couldn’t understand why it would take ten minutes to roll a kebab and squeeze out some sauce. But I think I know why now. I could hear all sorts of chopping and cutting in the kitchen. My roll/wrap/kebab was served with a smile. There was a basket on my table with a bottle of red liquid in it. Alas! ‘Twas no ketchup, but Tabasco! Awesome! The kebab thingy itself was nice and toasty warm, not scalding hot like when it’s fresh from the microwave, and even the lettuce and other fillings were warm, as was the pita. That was very nice, I must admit. But the pickle…

I found out about this place in the Postimees Online newspaper. Fifty comments. Most of them, as usual, from retarded monkeys. Some gems from among them:
—I hope it’s a real kebab, like in Sweden.
—A pureblooded Estonian don’t eat no kebab, our food is barley and pork.
—The main ingredient on white flour, lots of fat, some salad/onion/cucumber/tomato slices and the money will flow.
—We really need a diner where they offer sauerkraut and barley and fresh milk for a normal price.

The last two comments aren’t worthless, however. They’re critical of the fast food culture, and pine away for what they consider healthy food. The last comment, as you might not have noticed, mentions nothing about food with color, such as salad and onion and cucumber and tomato. And fresh milk, while indeed tasty, is loaded with fat and a whole host of other health risks. That’s why pasteurization was developed.

Other comments talked about name laws. While I strongly support local business using Estonian names and words (why be embarrassed about your language, Estonians!?), I think that with this place in particular, not much of a difference would be made if it were translated. Pitsa Kebaab. That’s because the foods themselves are imported concepts. You don’t hear tales about Uncle Vello, who lived three centuries ago, and his amazing noodle. No. Today, you hear about boys named Kevin-Ritšard who eat topsikoogid and tšipsid. Where did all the barley go, you might ask while sipping on a two-liter plastic bottle of Karuõlu (Bear Beer)?

But this place is nice. The guy had the guts to open a new place that didn’t offer mystery meat burgers, and from my experience today it was “quite normal”, in the Estonian sense (that means “pretty good” in Language). Hopefully he won’t get lazy and dependent on store-bought, pre-made ingredients and turn into a food assembly. I will definitely visit again, but I do hope he changes the channel on the television.


Miss_Russia said...

thank you. the post is helpful and hilarious, as always.

notsu said...

Was "fresh milk" rõõsk piim or värske piim in the comment? If it was "rõõsk" it doesn't necessarily mean unpasteurized - it means milk as opposed to any kind of fermented milk (be it called yoghurt, kefir or simply hapupiim) or buttermilk.

Anonymous said...

Great article. As an Estonian-kebab-aficionado Ive tried to visit all the kebabberies in Estonia. Havent got to Narva mnt yet. 2 days ago had kebab in Pärnu in a pretty disgusting looking place. Tasted quite nice actually. My fave must be Square Kebab in Tallinn underneath Vabaduse väljak - at least theres an actual Turk there.
Also, you mentioned the waiting - this is horrible, indeed. City Kebab in Tartu is incredibly slow, even though they have like 4 staff working on your order. I just dont get it, it should take under a minute (and it does, say, in Berlin).
And about pronunciation - in City Kebab they dont know how to pronounce "baguette". Although, back in high school our cafeteria sold something called "croisont". I wont even go to the pronunciation details...

gwen + cats said...

do you have an address of this place. As a Turkish I just want to go and taste it. I know I won't be fully satisfied but it will be a nice try :)

accounting services said...

Kebap and pizza? I have never seen that combination! It looks like a good place to try.

Anonymous said...

Finland is full of kebab + pizza places.

And pasteurization was not developed to get rid of fat.

Just my 2 cents.