Greatest Thing I Ever Ate: Kebab & Juice In War-Torn Libya

"To paraphrase YG, "Fucked it like I was fresh out of jail" - I didn't actually fuck it with my penis, but with my mouth."
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(picture via Andy's Instagram)

Misrata, Libya
June, 2013

An extremely fraught time. The story we had gone to cover, at great expense, disintegrated the day of arrival in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

Scrambling to find something else to shoot, we were to travel to the nearby city of Misrata, to negotiate their militia who recently led the charge on Tripoli and later the airport where reports have been of ISIS-linked groups stealing commercial planes for use in terror attacks.

These guys and their completely destroyed city (where Tim Hetherington was killed) were quite un-chilll. On arrival at out hotel in Misrata, our fixer Ahmed, a tubby, angry little prick who chain smoked 40 a day, started crying. The reason why? The month previously he'd been kidnapped and tortured / raped in the same hotel for carrying out the same story we were meant to cover. His kidnappers thought he was enabling spies. This made me very nervous.

That day, after a day of scary bullshit, none of which we were really allowed to film, we came across a kebab and juice shop next to the hotel, next to an alleyway where the gun shop next door would show customers how well the weapons worked.
As I waited for my order of a chicken shwarma with watermelon juice I stood with a group of surly Libyan men whose eyes were all drawn to a TV playing a Nat Geo show where tigers and vultures were feasting on the carcasses of deers. Gunshots in the near background made me involuntary flinch with each "pop!" and "ping!". Had the grim reaper walked up next to me and ordered a kebab made of babies, it would barely have made this grisly scene any less morbid.

But I hadn't eaten all day and as soon as I grabbed the warm, white-papered chicken schwarma package, I unwrapped it and, to paraphrase YG, "Fucked it like I was fresh out of jail".

I didn't actually fuck it with my penis, but with my mouth. There was flame burned curried chicken pieces mixed with weird hot Libyan garlic sauce that dripped onto my white shirt, already stained from a day from a mixture of crazy Libyan war dust and heat. My mouth is watering as I type this, so perfectly was that damn shwarma prepared. It was wrapped in the freshly made thin nan-like bread that was hot to the touch and also slightly burned.

All my worries disappeared as I finished drinking the chilled watermelon juice to wash it all down with. A brief respite of bliss in one of the worst weeks of my entire life.

Shit soon turned pear shaped quite quickly, when just minuted later I was told that the same people who'd raped Ahmed in the hotel wanted to talk to us at 7am the next morning because they thought we were spies.

Andy is Global Editor of VICE and just won an Emmy for the VICE show on HBO. No big deal.

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