Sunday, October 14, 2012

Around Aberdeen: Lionel's Takeaway

What do you do if you're a Moroccan who looks exactly like Lionel Richie? Simple: you move to Aberdeen and open a kebab shop called Lionel's. Isn't it obvious?

I wandered into Lionel's Takeaway at the end of my first week in town after running a couple of errands at the Union Square mall in Aberdeen's city center. I just walked in because I saw that it was a kebab shop and I hadn't eaten at a decent kebab shop since I left the United Kingdom in 2004 - even in the Middle East! Once I walked in and saw the name on the menu, then the proprietor, I laughed and asked him if he used to be a singer in the States. What did he do? He put Do It To Me on the stereo... On repeat... For about forty minutes.

Lionel's partner-in-kebab is Chico, an Algerian. Chico and I have some great discussions about football (soccer), politics, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, and any number of other topics. I've been fascinated with Algeria for years, so it's really great to be able to actually chat with someone whose roots go back there.

For those readers who don't know what kebabs are, you have a couple of different types. According to Chico, doner kebab - the one on the right - is Turkish and doesn't exist in the Arab countries, which is consistent with my experience. In the areas of the Middle East where I've travelled, it's called shwarma, and it's different from doner kebab. Doner kebab is lamb meat roasted on a rotating skewer, and then cut off into strips and put into a pita. It can be garnished with vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, and you can eat it with chili sauce or garlic mayonnaise. I get mine with no vegetables and garlic mayonnaise, the latter being about the closest approximation the United Kingdom has to offer in the way of ranch dressing.

The spit on the right is chicken. One of the menu items is a mixed kebab, and let me tell you, I can barely finish one. On Friday night, I made it through the Fantasia Chicken, which is sort of like chicken alfredo. I love this kebab shop.

So, the next time you find yourself on Bridge Street in Aberdeen's city center, stop in for a kebab and a chat with Lionel and Chico. You'll be glad that you did!

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