Author: Linni Kral
“Where can a girl get some ostrich around here?”
Could I be any more of a tourist? The hostel owner indulged in a quick laugh before maintaining his hospitality and pulling out a menu. Apparently a restaurant called Sosati’s down the road would be a good bet, but I perused the document to find not a single trace of ostrich. Bummer. I wandered the streets, wondering if I’d ever get to try that bizarre South African animal and decided to hit up Sosati anyways.
A Michael Clarke Duncan-esque waiter ushered us warmly into the exotic open space, sporting a bright orange dashiki that reeked of Oxy pride. The lighting fixtures were made of ostrich eggs and wildebeest antlers and cast a glow that I couldn’t help but relate to those cliché African sunsets you see in Lion King. We were seated at a corner table, between a mini stage scattered with African instruments and a wall covered in one big zebra hide. It may sound like they were overdoing it, but it felt perfect.
I should begin by telling you that sosatie is a South African word used to refer to kebabs. We started our meal with a nod to Steve Irwin’s favorite-that’s right, crocodile sosatie. This tasted like sweet and sour pork, and I’m not sure if that was the sauce or the typical taste of crocodile. There was a lot of fat on the wooden stick, but the parts with meat were pretty tasty.
Now, brace yourself for the next course: wildebeest, springbok and kudu sosaties. In case you’re like me and don’t know what a springbok or kudu is, there are ample photos online. They both appear to be members of the antelope family, but judging by taste all of these meats could be members of the cattle family. I don’t know what I was expecting, but they were just like steak.
At first bite, the three were indistinguishable. Slowly I began to notice subtle differences, though. Wildebeest was chewier and bloodier; kudu was lighter in tint and more pork-like; springbok was the most well-rounded in texture and taste, and my favorite of the bunch.
This veritable feast of wild animal came with a side of mealie pap, another South African treat I’d been hearing about. This was a disappointingly bland white lump of starch, similar to polenta in texture but lacking in any flavor whatsoever. Our banana salad made up for it, though-sliced banana, papaya and pineapple were mixed in a creamy sweet mustard sauce and tossed with pumpkin seeds. This essentially served as dessert-our stomachs were too full to even consider another dish. This was unfortunate, considering the koeksisters being brought to tables all around us. These are fried shiny pastry braids similar to donuts, but drenched in syrup and surrounded by ice cream. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, their name is always good for a chuckle.
I could go on, but any writing talents of mine are rendered somewhat pointless here. Eating four different kinds of animal I’ve never tried before, many of which don’t even exist in the States, kind of speaks for itself.
As the different waiters took turns banging on the drums and talking to us about Barack Obama and Michael Jordan, I had no choice but to lean back in my chair, fully content with my African experience. Because even though I haven’t seen many safari animals yet, at least I can now say I’ve eaten them.
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