The price of kebabs upsets the Germans

The most popular fast food in Germany is not sausage sausageNor is he CurrywurstNot even a hamburger. The food menu par excellence are the kebabs, or vertigoAnd As it is known in German: thin slices of grilled meat with salad and a generous amount of sauce in pita bread. Meat rolls turning in on themselves while grilling on a vertical grill are a typical image of German cities. That is why when inflation started to rise, and traditionally cheap kebabs were no longer so cheap, many raised their hands. But how will that cost a kebab? asked the stunned customers of the Frankfurt restaurant that was all over the media when the price was raised to €10.

“he vertigo It is part of the German identity,” says Eberhard Seidl, sociologist and author of the book, among others Döner: A Turkish-German Cultural History (2022). A favorite food for students – at the Technical University of Berlin a kebab place just opened on campus – and for working classes for decades In barely a year and a half, the cost has gone from skyrocketing four or five euros to six or seven Or, as in Frankfurt, ten. “The reaction to the price increase was a bit dramatic, but understandable if you think about how cheap it is to make a meal with 150 or 200 grams of meat, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, sauce and bread,” Seidel says in his office at the NGO he currently runs, Schools Without Racism.

It was Turkish immigrants who, if not invented them, popularized this dish in the 1970s, with around 550 tons of meat sold in some 18,000 stores across the country. No McDonald’s nor any other food franchise even comes close to it The turnover rate of the kebab industry. The majority are small family businesses and many were founded after the 1973 oil crisis, when workers of Turkish origin who had arrived since 1961 in Germany’s factories and mines in full industrial development lost their jobs. “He was visiting worker [literalmente, trabajadores invitados] And they had to leave, but in many cases they brought their families and wanted to stay. Their success story: They ended up, out of necessity, making Germany’s national food, ”says the expert.

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Seidel explains that if years ago it was determined how long you had to work to buy a kilogram of pork or beer, today the indicator is kebab. That is why the blow to inflation led to talk of a “kebab crisis” or to the fact that in the recent municipal elections in Berlin, the Social Democrats hung banners in Kreuzberg – the neighborhood where the Turkish community traditionally lives – demanding a “curb on price”. vertigoInflation in Germany averaged 8% last year, the highest level in the country’s post-war history. It closed in June at 6.4% (compared to 1.9% in Spain), affected primarily by food prices. The shopping basket is 13.7% more expensive than it was a year ago.

In fact, says Seidl, the kebab was very cheap. Its low cost was based on many low-paid hours of work—usually the owners are the same people who handle the long knives with which the meat is cut—and on very narrow margins. “With the war, the prices of all raw materials have skyrocketed, and you have to take into account that grills consume a lot of gas,” he points out. So even if Germany manages to contain inflation, kebabs are unlikely to return to the filling and super-cheap fast food they once were.

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