Tuesday, December 22

A Year (or Two) in Kenya: Carnivore adventures

My proclivity toward vegetarianism along with those instances in which it is permissible to ignore that dietary restriction has been documented on this blog before. Now I add another circumstance to that list: when the establishment intended for the satisfaction of the gustatory impulse has been voted one of the world's fifty greatest restaurants.

Carnivore does have a vegetarian menu, but what's the point? The name is Carnivore. The meats are the motivation, the reason for being, the centerpiece, the raison d'etre, the alpha and the omega. You may as well go to a hockey game for the Sprite as forego the pleasures of the flesh at Carnivore.

Yes, the soup at the beginning was fennel and vegetable. And it was accompanied by some brown bread. And there was steamed rice and spinach on the bottom of the lazy susan every table was provided with, but we know they were really there to freshen the palate between courses of muscle taken from the usual and atypical suspects of mammals, birds and reptiles.

A certain sense of the theatrical accompanied this celebration of animal-based proteins. Waiting to be seated offers an unimpeded view of the roast pit. Its circumference was at least the equal to that of double bed, and the skewers were stacked eight high around it. The internals made externals of chickens and cows and pigs and turkeys and lambs and ostriches and crocodiles all roast slowly above one another, their juices dripping down until their internal temperatures are raised to a point deemed safe to eliminate all bacteria.

Neither does the sensational end with the meal itself. When it comes time to be served, the lacerated muscle is delivered straight to the tables by carvers arrayed in zebra print aprons and carrying literal swords. The blunted end is planted on the table and slices of roast lamb and beef and pork and turkey are sheared off before you and on to your plate. Alas, the good stuff cannot always be delivered with such style. Pork ribs and chicken wings and crocodile steaks are simply pushed off long skewers. Chicken livers and ostrich meatballs are even more disappointing. They are carried on a silver plate and deposited with tongs. It may have more grace, but made at the sacrifice of flamboyance, it is not worth it in Carnivore.

Anyway, it all tastes pretty good. The waiter took especial care in describing exactly which meats the masala curry (beef), fruit (pork), wild berry (ostrich and turkey), garlic (chicken), chili (any), mint (lamb) sauces are meant to accompany, but every dish was so richly seasoned that the toppings became irrelevant.

I could have definitely broken my vegetarian fast for inferior animal bits.

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