Food is closely connected to our memory in that taste and smell has the ability to swiftly bring us back to a specific time and place in our lives. The taste of an apple pie can bring you back instantly to your grandmothers place and that time when you were visiting for the holidays. Or the sip of a red wine will take you back to that first date when everything began. Through our senses food can take us places and let us relive moments of our past. Imagine being in Honolulu, Hawaii, walking through Chinatown and all of a sudden, the smell in your nostrils reminds you of the streets of Berlin. The sensory experiences takes you across oceans and continents and leads you to Döner Shack, Hawaiis first and only Berlin Döner Kebab stand.
The Co-owner, Donald Moriaty, visited Berlin 2008 and two years later, he opened the Döner stand furthest away from Berlin, in Hawaiis capital city Honolulu. Among many other street food vendors Moriaty found a spot for his hole in the wall style Döner restaurant and in 2020 he can celebrate 10 years of selling Berlin Style Turkish Döner Kebab. But how does the German/Turkish snack fit in to the fabric of Honolulu? “It wasn’t obvious” he Moriaty explains, “with Chinese and other Asian foods being very popular here. But after a visit to Japan, where the kebab was gaining in popularity I knew it was universally loved”. He continues, “the main reason I believed Döner Kebab was special, aside from being delicious, was I believed it could be eaten everyday. A perfect harmony of healthy, delicious, and affordable that few foods achieve. This was especially true in the "Berlin style" which incorporates lots of fresh vegetables.”While every Berliner know a döner and most people in Europe are familiar with some sort of kebab, the same was not the case in Hawaii. People had experiences with Turkish food and German food but that is not what Moriaty is selling. “We market our food as "Berlin style Turkish Doner Kebab". Which is basically true but entirely confusing. But explaining it is hard anyways. We don't market as German Food or Turkish Food because people would expect authentic dishes we don't have. But that helps us focus on great Döner anyways.” According to him, they don’t want to do any local adaptations but focus on being as close to an original Berlin Döner as possible.
With the covid-19 pandemic banning travel in most of the world for the foreseeable future, food might play an even more important role in giving us a break from the familiarity of our closed and confined social circles. When some of us Döner fans are cut of from eating the original Berlin Döner it helps to think that in most countries around the world, there is a local outlet of Berlin style Döner Kebab stand ready to send us right back to the streets of Berlin. At least in a sensory way.