The meals in the hotels, lodges and camps of South Africa generally come as something of a revelation to our American visitors. They are fresh, healthy, colorful and simply delicious. What is more surprising to them, and many are world travelers, is that they are delightfully “normal” looking to their western eyes. Of course this is not always the case and one should always be prepared to be more adventurous in culinary pursuits when visiting new cultures and lands.
Such was the case recently when I was leading a Corporate Group in South Africa. A carefully selected meal of hot and cold canapés of South African delicacies crafted to appeal to the North American palate had been prepared. And this had been thoughtfully paired with the appropriate world-class South African wine. It was a charming evening and perfect introduction to the delights that lay before them as they traveled exotic South Africa.
As hostess I did the rounds talking to the guests and enquired after their comfort and enjoyment. I was greeted enthusiastically by several of the groups as they raved over their experiences thus far. One group told me how delicious the food was, however “they didn’t care much for the lion!” I laughed and replied that they must be mistaken as there was certainly no lion on the menu. They assured me that was what they had eaten. Thinking perhaps too much good SA wine had been enjoyed, I smiled and moved on, only to be told at the next table as they too raved about the delicious spread, that they had “loved the lion”! More than puzzled, I decided I had better find this particular hors d’oeuvre and try it for myself in order to clear up this misunderstanding. It was clearly small bites of something meaty. As every delicacy was thoughtfully labeled, I leant over to peer at this label in the somewhat dim cocktail lighting, to see
“SPRINGBOK LION CRUSTED WITH COFFEE AND CUMIN WITH SWEET POTATO FONDANT”
The next day, I was at pains to point out that my guests were not to go back to America and tell wild stories about their gourmet African experience and eating lion all because of some dyslexic typist! That Lion they thought they were eating was really Springbok Loin - and yes, I had to agree it was truly delicious!
A ‘disgusted’ male lion strides into the sunset and away from any mention of Springbok and Lion in the same sentence!