Hot on the heels of my recent post about the strangest food in the world, I thought I’d share with you a slightly different safari I went on while in Namibia recently.
Not content with seeing the many beautiful animals that Namibia is home to, I also wanted to take a bit of a culinary safari. Before you jump down my throat and call me a monster for eating animals that are endangered in other countries, hear me out.
Game Meat in Namibia
Game meat is big business in Namibia, where sustainable farming has managed to increase rather than decrease the number of oryx, kudu, eland, springboks, and other animals in the country.
Our guide, Stefan, summer it up best when he described the situation in Namibia. I’m paraphrashing him here, as it’s been two months since the conversation:
By giving game value, it encourages farmers to protect them rather than simply running them off their land. Oryx and elands are not seen as competition for their cattle or sheep, but as another piece of livestock. The animals are being kileld for meat, yes, but this value they are given encourages everybody to work towards their conservation.
While the oryx is endangered in some countries, its numbers in Namibia are healthy despite the animal appearing on the dinner plate.
As an Australian who has grown up able to enjoy a good kangaroo steak or stir fry, I wasn’t squeamish about trying some Namibian game meat.
Hell, if anything, I was excited.
Oryx Steak – Joe’s Beerhouse, Windhoek
Joe’s Beerhouse is something of a Windhoek staple, and with its quirky post-apocalyptic decor I immediately felt right at home. Whether you’re seated by a wall adorned with kitsch or you’re perched atop one of the repurposed toilets as a seat at the bar, you’re immersed in this Mad Max-esque setting.
Of course with a name like Joe’s Beerhouse, the place had a pretty good selection of beer as well. Plenty of good import brews and a local wheat beer called the Camelthorn Weizen that I fell immediately in love with.
We were here to eat though, and I made the most of it by ordering a sizable oryx steak at the recommendation of our guide.
Cooked medium and served up with a sizable baked potato, it was just about one of the finest things I’ve ever tasted. I could immediately see why oryx is a favourite among fans of game meat. So tender and flavourful!
Washed done with a light, slightly fruity wheat beer it was a real treat.
It almost made up for the guilt I felt at eating my favourite antelope species.
My travel companion, Caren, out-did me by ordering a sampler skewer that featured springbok, oryx, kudu, ostrich, zebra, and crocodile in one decadent carnivore treat.
Kudu Schnitzel & Springbok Stroganoff – Etosha Safari Lodge
The next animals on the agenda came in the form of one decadent meal at the exquisite Etosha Safari Lodge. When I wasn’t out admiring the breathtaking view of Etosha National Park from the sundowner deck, I was hunkered down in the open dining area enjoying the fantastic buffet meals they put on.
A schnitzel probably isn’t the best way to get a taste for a game meat, but I still found kudu to taste remarkably like elk or venison. With all of that breading and pepper sauce, it could have been a regular schnitzel though. It’s one I’ll need to try again.
Ditto the springbok stroganoff, which was delicious, but could easily have been beef or pork for all I could taste through the thick, creamy sauce.
Impala Steak – Kulala Desert Lodge
Next in the food chain was impala, sometimes known as the McDonalds of the Savannah due to their distinctive ‘M’ marking. I’ll write more about my wonderful experience sleeping under the stars at the Kulala Desert Lodge soon. The experience really warrants its own write-up.
Eaten with a pepper sauce and some baked veggies, this one was a slightly tougher eat than the oryx.
I would still say I liked it more than a traditional beef steak though, and that’s pretty high praise given my appreciation for a good Aussie steak.
Eland Steak – Hotel EuropaHof, Swakopmund
The last notable animal to feature on my plate was the eland. The largest member of the antelope family wasn’t a bad eat at all, although he (or she) wasn’t a patch on the oryx. Enjoyed at the distinctly German themed Hotel EuropaHof in Swakopmund, it was the last bit of game meat to grace my taste buds.
As usual, this guy was accompanied by roast vegetables and a hefty serving of melted butter into which I could dip said vegetables. Not a bad meal by any stretch, and it went great with a red wine I am too classless to know the name of.
I’ve admitted before – I’m something of a wine virgin.
I did also sample a little zebra, crocodile (which I’ve had on a few occasions in Australia), and ostrich while I was in Namibia. I didn’t have enough of any to be able to give a definitive opinion on them though.
Maybe during my upcoming trip to Kenya I can check off the missing ones at Carnivore?
Do I Feel Guilty?
A few of my (vegetarian) friends have asked me if I felt bad about eating such beautiful animals.
I’ll admit, there was a little reticence on my part to eat an oryx or impala. They’re so beautiful!
But at the end of the day, if I’m okay with eating one kind of meat, I don’t see any reason why I should balk at eating another kind of meat. As long as it is humanely killed and not endangered, it would be grossly ethnocentric of me to condemn one kind of meat while happily eating another.
…it would be grossly ethnocentric of me to condemn one kind of meat while happily eating another.
I won’t go out of my way to eat game meat every time I see it, but you better believe I’ll be having another oryx steak if the opportunity presents itself. It might have usurped kangaroo as my favourite meat.
Have you eaten game meat before?
Would you if given the opportunity?
If you wouldn’t give it a go, why not?