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We Brits have done a terrible disservice to the kebab. Here in Istanbul kebabs take pride of place everywhere from the backstreets to top tables. In the UK, they rank alongside pot noodle and Ginsters products, with numerous beers being an essential appetiser.

Istanbul’s kebab experience is thus: first, the setting is invariably a restaurant or cafeteria-style servery, often done up pretty nicely; accompaniments arrive first, some dips, soft cheeses, spiced eggplants, salad, yoghurts; billowing bread is served and replaced whenever it’s gone; and finally the kebab of your choice – lamb, chicken, meatballs, long skewers of meats and vegetables – takes it’s place amidst all this, itself on a bed of yellow rice, lettuce and charred soft bread.

Our version (or at least our most prominent version) is some – certainly not all – of the above hastily shoved into a fold of bread, encased in squeaky polystyrene and handed to a customer who will likely leave at least half of it on the floor of a nightbus.

At what point did we ruin such a fine food? Or is this just a terrible example of culinary lost in translation? If it really is lost, how can we re-find the real deal?

If I’m honest, I’m not saying that after a Turkish epiphany I’m going to rush back and book a table for dinner at ‘Constantinople’, you know, the one near Yates’ down the high street. Many of our Turkish-run restaurants genuinely are terrible and from them I will continue to buy only chips, and only after midnight.

Turkish restaurants in the UK that are, however, serving kebabs of the quality made here in Istanbul, deserve better than to have their food dragged through reputation mud. These places, then, I hereby pledge to acknowledge with greater respect forthwith, and to eat a few of their meatballs while I’m at it. Yum.

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