Alex Massie Alex Massie

In Praise of Mahmut Aygun

How did I miss this tragic news?

The man who invented the donor [sic!] kebab has died. Mahmut Aygun, was suffering from cancer and died in Berlin at the age of 87. Known as the “kebab king” he was born in Turkey and moved to Germany at the age of 16 to open a snack stall. He invented the doner kebab nearly 40 years ago. Kebab meat, consisiting of roast lamb and spices, had traditionally been served with rice but in a moment of inspiration Mr Aygun saw that the future lay in putting the meat inside a pitta bread. That allowed customers who had been drinking to wander off into the night with their food and eat it as they stumbled home. Mr Aygun once said: “I thought how much easier it would be if they could take their food with them.” The first of the new snacks was served on March 2, 1971, at Hasir, his restaurant in Berlin.

Patrick McGoohan, Tony Hart, John Mortimer… And now this. What a year it’s been.


Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in