As many european cities, Lyon has a huge arab community. And as such, lots of arab restaurants. As a brazilian (people don’t seem to see that I come from Brazil) and living in a town that almost all communities live in harmony, it’s a shock to see the diference on how locals treat arab people and how arab people have prejudice among themselves.
But, let’s talk about kebabs. For those who never saw one, it’s a sandwich made from grilled meat with lettuce, tomatoes, onions or pickles. It is quite tasty and simple, a real treat if well made. The meat is the main aspect of the dish, if raw or over cooked, it ruins the sandwich and can make it quite an unpleasant experience.
Keep in mind that probably one of the two most intimate and important aspects from a civilization is its food. And it’s not easy to share something intimate. Despite the image that european people make from Kebab, as something that “you’d eat after a night out, very drunk and without any condition to judge something by its looks or smell” – as one english friend has told me – I was hungry for one ever since I arrived in Europe.
Yesterday I had my first (decent) kebab. I was walking on my street and at the point where I couldn’t listen to french anymore and names of restaurants either were in english or arab or some unusual name in french (such as “The Butcher’s Shop from the Future” [La Boucherie de L’avenir]) I started looking for a decent restaurant.
There it was. Just minutes away from my house I found the “Oasis”, an arab restaurant. Simple, honest and full of arab people, good signs when you’re in foreign lands. Green and white walls, simple ilumination, some paper sheets to protect the table from spillings and that’s it.
My kebab arrived graciously. In a plastic green plate with some french oven-made fries and some mayo on top. My smile was taking over the room as soon as I had my first bite in what would be a delicious chicken kebab. Made with mayo, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce and lots of grilled chicken, for 5 euros with a liter of water… totally worth it.
You could go to more “mainstream” kebabs, such as nice restaurants and pay 10 or even 20 euros for one kebab. Or the other way round, you could pay less for something waaaay more suspicious but who-knows, better. But I don’t care: I have found my Oasis. Rá!