Africa is a place many people have seen on a map but have never visited first-hand. It is often characterized by safaris with wild animals and kids playing soccer. For my family though, it means a lot more than that. And for me, it is where I had the best and most exotic meal of my life.
My family and I flew into Johannesburg, South Africa on October 29, 2011. From there, we went and met my aunt in Botswana. We spent five days on a safari in Chobe National Park before spending another five days in Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls.
From Zimbabwe, my family drove across Botswana to Swakopmund, Namibia. Here, we went sandboarding and ate lots of authentic German food (Namibia was a German Colony until the 1910s). After spending a week in this culturally diverse city, my family and I drove to Windhoek, Namibia.
My aunt had done research and talked to locals in Windhoek and decided on Joe's Beerhouse as a must-visit restaurant destination during our stay. I was rather disappointed at first when I opened the menu only to see that the soup of the day was butternut squash soup, not exactly the kind of exotic items you would expect to find in Namibia. My feelings changed as I flipped through and found the page labeled "Game."
I ordered the bushman sosasie (sosasie refers to meat cooked on a skewer), which consisted of Crocodile, Zebra, Kudu, Oryx, and Springbok cuts. It did seem a little ironic to sit down and eat several animals that I had just seen on safari, but the recommendation from our server made me feel a little less guilty.
The crocodile truly tasted like chicken, although it was a little tougher to chew. The Kudu, Oryx, and Springbok all tasted similar. They were comparable to sirloin steaks, although they had a distinct game-y taste. The Zebra filet was truly heavenly. It was cooked medium-rare, had perfect marbling, and could be cut like butter.
Accompanying these tasty meats were fried polenta cakes and a basic iceberg salad. The meat was of such high quality and was so perfectly cooked that it could have come by itself though. My father and I ate zebra that night for dinner, and we both agree that we have never tasted anything better. My mom, sister, and aunt all opted for something milder, but after eating bites of my meal, agreed that I had made the best decision of the night.
The meal itself cost 176 Namibian Dollars ($12.75 USD) but was worth much more than that in the memories it created. I tried to find Zebra and other game meats during the rest of my trip, but failed miserably.
While Zebra meat is illegal to eat in the United States, I encourage you to take advantage of any opportunity you have to legally enjoy this delicacy. The only downfall of eating this awesome collection of meats is that it now serves as my standard. While some reading this article may question why I would dare do such a thing, it should be known that it is a cultural norm in certain regions of Africa. The citizens of these nations eat zebra and other game meats just as Americans eat steak and chicken.
I struggle to tell the story of this meal, as I am always unsure of how people will respond to it. I had male friends who thought of me as a carnivorous Steve Irwin and female friends who saw me as an environment-destroying monster. Eating this succulent meat may mean you'll have to explain why you tried it in the first place, but I can promise you that it is worth it.