"Your Kebap is paradise. And you are amazing!"
How did he react?
He shook his head, laughed and said, "Aww, Rosa! Rosa!"
How did I feel?
Erol reigns a country. It is not the land of milk and honey (because Erol does not like sweets). It is not the country of Ehrenfeld raw food either (because Erol is in love with his grill). It is kebap land. Meat. Its smell, its taste, its texture- that and only that is what Erol's kingdom lives off and for. Meat in a sandwich, meat in a tortilla, meat with rice, meat with potatoes. Meat with salad or without. Meat makes his neighbors complain they are constantly hungry and thirsty from the smells Erol's building blows in the air, so hungry they find themselves unable to concentrate on their work and file a law suit. Meat turns vegetarians into full on barbecue enthusiasts: It happens to me each time I am there. If I had twenty four hours to live they would involve lunch at Erol's. And dinner. And breakfast.
Last year I lived 100 meters away from Erol's. I went there every day. We made friends. Initially the food had allured me to return day by day. However I quickly learned that it is not just the kingdom's goods that turn Kebapland into an every day vacation destination. It is their monarch, too. A few days into my kebab phase I made friends with Erol. Apparently so does the whole neighborhood: He asked me to give him violin lessons and I suggested to take them to the park. "No way!", Erol answered, "Everyone here knows me. It'd be embarrassing." Looking around I realized he was right about his local prominence. Each day different people came, greeted him, enjoyed a kebab and gave Erol updates on their lives. In return he listened, sympathized or joked around. His country was a retreat to everyone. No exceptions. Male, female, black, white, punks, professors, shiny babes, hipsters: They all came together at Erol's. And they all loved him. While the administrative language of Kebapland was Kurdish Erol would adjust to his visitors' needs. He spoke Turkish, French or German. And a few words of Spanish. A kurd born in Turkey Erol had lived in Paris and Southern Germany before ending up in Cologne. Every now and then he would sit down with me and entertain me with a story from back in the days in Paris, or Kurdish traditions, or his passion for collecting musical instruments. Never for longer than five minutes though. Then he would have to return to his throne behind the grill and serve his goods to masses who had come to nourish their hearts and souls in Kebapland. His country's economy prospered. And rightly so! King Erol managed to bring people together peacefully and make them happy on various levels. It was a delight for me to see that that paid off.
Yeah! This post deals with what happened half a year ago. Why share it now?
Because I just visited Cologne and stopped by to see Erol and immerse in his kitchen's taste. I am a Berliner. We like to think we know what a good kebab tastes like: Our city is the capital of kebab sandwiches. Now here is a confession. Living in Berlin again since last October I have not found a single kebab that tastes as delicious a Erol's. Nowhere near! Back in Cologne I realized this post has been due for six months. After all it is time to hand over the Berlin kebab crown to Cologne. Long live King Erol!