Souvlaki v Kebabs

Everyone’s got a preference for one or the other: the souvlaki or the kebab. Both are kings of the late night fast food fare with swarms of followers keen to tell you one is better than the other. Both are tightly wrapped filled with goodies both warm and fuzzy and sometimes you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

They are much like football.

All my life, I’ve followed the souvlaki of football. Geelong. Stuffed to the brim with goodies, sometimes messy, (recently) usually fulfilling, and always being left wanting more. Geelong, much like the souva is a choice in lifestyle, a preference to getting something really special.

Kebabs. They might be nicely presented, they might promise to be everything you want them to be, but in my opinion after all that’s said and done, they leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and worse for wear the day after. To me all the other teams in the AFL are kebabs.

On Friday night at Etihad Stadium we saw the Cats, almost one with the lot, overcome one of the kebabs of the AFL.

The game started tediously and frantically, much like the initial unwrapping of a tightly packaged souvlaki. It takes a bit of effort and knowhow to unveil the peak of the Greek Everest, that sneak peek of meat and pita and strands of lettuce which start your mouth watering.

The first bite is delicious, Duncan kicks the first goal. Savouring the great start we unwrap a lit bit more. But before we know it, all of a sudden we’ve got a mouth full of paper and wrapping. And the Blues answer with 3 goals which are surely going to ruin our appetite. Did we bite off more than we could chew? Let’s unwrap a little bit more.

The Cats would now have to claw their way back. It’s a delicate balancing act to keep the meat in the pita and keeping the paper and wrapping out of your mouthful.

Carefully, methodically, the paper wrapping is slowly pushed down, bit by bit. Motlop singlehandedly outscores the Blues and the Cats claw their way back into the game and by half time is only 5 points down. The souvlaki is teetering between spilling out all over our laps and being devoured without a breath. We sense that something is going to happen either way.

For much of the game, the match is a tussle, barely a goal or two either way. We’re half way through and we’re wondering if we should have bought a second souva, we’re ravenous for more. Still a half to go, unsatisfied with what we’ve had so far.

They say that when it counts, the cream rises to the top. In this instance, it’s the tzatziki that rises, a hefty bite reveals that garlic tang which symbolises everything that’s good about a souvlaki. Geelong’s tzatziki a.k.a Selwood and Bartel respond and help the Cats turn a 5 point deficit into a 6 point lead at the final break. 5 goals to 3 gives the Cats momentum to push on in the last quarter.

The last quarter got really messy the tzatziki is dripping and there are scraps of lamb falling into the bottom of the bag. Confused between “how good does this taste?” and “Far out! I need a shower after I get through this”, the game grinds in similar fashion. Four goals to two sounds like the Cats took firm control of the quarter, but the Blues wasted a lot of opportunities and scored 9 points in addition to their 2 majors. Like the souvlaki the game didn’t look so pretty, but tasted pretty damn good in the end.

I’ll take souvlaki any day, kebabs really just don’t do it for me. Even an ordinary souvlaki beats the hell out of a good kebab. Even if it’s by only 12 points.

Our (Geelong) best: Chapman, Selwood, Motlop (special mention of Mitch Duncan’s and Taylor Hunt’s games)

About James Demetrie

Fanatic Geelong supporter, proud webmaster for the Footy Almanac and IT guru who has been promising to propose to his partner at Kardinia Park. He's a football spritualist who's devoted to converting his friends to the way of the Cats.


  1. Very good mate!

  2. Thanks Scott

  3. I think you have to throw shawarma into the mix now to be truly broad-minded.

    There are many variations, but you can’t help feeling that the shawarma aspires to the heights of the kebab/souvlaki duopoly. It is smaller and more reliant on the meat than the vegetable matter, (although the addition of the spicy pickles can add a range of flavour beyond that provided with condiments). The spreading of the raw garlic paste gives a nice kick in the flavour basket as well. Often left with the feeling of emptiness.

    I see teams like GWS, Suns, Melbourne, and the Bulldogs representing these culinary sideshows, although any team on their day cam lay claim.

  4. Lord Bogan says

    Enjoyed the metaphor James, but Kebab Station in Sydney Road Coburg is far better than any souvlaki I’ve tried in Melbourne. Authentic Greek souvlaki is made from pork on a spit. If you ask for a lamb souva in Greece they look at you like you’re an alien. Now I’m hungry. Thanks mate !!

  5. Richard Naco says

    Maybe my being married to my marvellous Leb – my Naur (Danni will understand) – has done it for me (we first met exactly 17 years ago this Queen’s Birthday holiday Monday)(easy to remember: it was exactly one week after my niece was born), but I love all eastern Med food equally.

    Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Egyptian – all tantalise and take me to places I’m more than happy to go.

    This could be why I love all AFL right now, with my Giants as the main course (and I will see to it that Eddie gets his yummy scrummy felafal from the Lebanese food stall at Skoda when the Pies play there) and everybody else as the side dishes. The game has never tasted better!

    And good sambuski really makes my mouth my mate for a month whenever I eat it! Or Awafi grilled chicken, with a side order of toum!!!

  6. I saw 3 quarters of the game before succumbing to chardonnay somnambulation. There seemed to be a lot of tough old bunny boilers in striped jumpers, that would need a lot of slow cooking to achieve a tasty result. Can I suggest a Stifado recipe:

    “Stifado uses a lot of olive oil, so it is smooth going down. This moistens the rabbit as well, which is braised slowly until it is about to fall off the bone. You can pull the meat off the bone before serving, as I do, or just leave the pieces in the stew. The Greeks typically leave the pieces as-is. The spices give the stew zing without heat, and the tomatoes, which are obviously a post-1492 addition, add a bit more sweetness as well as needed acidity. There’s a reason stifado is such a strong part of Greek cooking.

    You’ll want either a nice Greek red wine, a lager beer, or ouzo with a glass of water as a chaser to go along with this stew. And don’t forget to have lots of good crusty bread around, too.”

  7. Thank you to everyone for your comments.

Leave a Comment