Growing up in Long Island, New York, my cultural palate never experienced many cuisines outside of Italian, Chinese, American and Mom’s. Turkish food was never an option, so now at 38 years old, I can appreciate the pleasant, sweet, peppery and warm flavours this cuisine, rich in tradition, presents.
When the risk of sauce theft is so common that a place has to hang up a sign saying, “Sausflesjes mogen niet naar buiten” (“Sauce bottles are not allowed outside”), something real special must be going on inside! Leeman Döner has been a family owned and operated business since 1992, with two locations here in Amsterdam.
With the exception of one month per year, the incredibly hard working Kilic family cranks out 200kg or 400lbs of döner PER DAY!
What is döner?
Well, it’s an inverted cone of meat, seasoned with Turkish spices, being slowly cooked, vertically on a rotisserie that will make any Fat Kid weak at the knees.
Spinning round and round
I walk in, I’m practically drooling! Serving up Turkish Pizza’s, Lamb or Chicken Döner, Dürüm, Kebab, Falafel, Börek and even Baklava, you can choose just about anything on the menu and only pay a few euros for it! I give my order, “Kip broodje” and luckily find a place to sit. Entranced, I watch the four meat saunas work their magic!
Spinning round and around, the döner slowly cooks while fresh, made-to-order pieces of bread are lined up, waiting to be called into action. “Hondered drieentwintig!” They call out. “Hondered drieentwintig” They yell out again…” Then, “Number 123!” “Shit!” I think that’s me. “Sorry.. dank je wel,” I say as I grab my chicken bundle of joy like a newborn.
The tools I need for battle, napkins and extra garlic sauce, are within striking distance as I eye up my first bite. I dive in! The crunch of the lettuce, bite from the onion, earthiness of the cilantro combined with the taste of paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic, cumin, oregano, and red pepper touch my palate, creating a holy matrimony of flavours with the chicken.
Physically unable to put my sandwich down, I laugh, watching the lunchtime video game unfolding in front of me. Everyone there is “Pac Man” eating: chomp, chomp, chomp without stopping. My own Fat Kids version of “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” starts playing in my head as I douse my sandwich with more garlic sauce!
Like machines, without saying a word, together we are garlic sauce “Brothers-in-arms”, passing the bottle back and forth to each other after each bite until there is no more sandwich left!
Out of breath, I cave as I contemplate another sandwich. “Why not?” I say, as I re-enlist my stomach for another tour of duty. It’s just that good.
Remember, no matter where you come from, where you’re at or where you’re going, food allows us to come together despite cultural or religious differences. Stop in today and say hello to my friends at Leeman Döner!”
Where do you go for döner? Let us know and comment below!