As any worldly sportsman could tell you, there is absolutely nothing that puts more of a damper on getting your Colonel Kurtz on than discovering that the exotic game you are about to bite into is in fact nothing more than a lowly beast of burden. God save the Queen!
And if you happen to be the sort of unrefined epicurean who thought these sorts of dire concerns died out in the Victorian era, guess again. One British steakhouse sporting an array of exotic meats on its menu is facing backlash and a hefty fine after it was discovered that several of the dishes served there were in fact not from the animals advertised.
The Watford eatery, simply named The Steakhouse, is facing a fine of close to £4,000 after officers from the UK's Trading Standards Institute visited and made the curious discovery. The undercover officers apparently placed orders for wildebeest and zebra, but were shocked to find that the order tickets in the eatery's kitchen instead read, "1 venison, chips and salad" and "1 horse, chips and salad."
A photo posted by Zam (@zamtendo) on May 19, 2013 at 5:49pm PDT
The Steakhouse's owner, Kunal Soni, originally claimed to the officers that the waitstaff had simply made a mistake on the ticket. That theory didn't really hold up, however, when lab work on the meats in question revealed that the "zebra" was in fact horsemeat and the "wildebeest" venison.
Looks like things weren't entirely black and white behind the dining room walls. Get it—zebra? (Hope you like dad jokes.)
Shit jokes aside, the restaurant claims to serve up a staggering assortment of exotic game including: crocodile steaks, wildebeest, zebra, kangaroo, ostrich, springbok, and antelope. Yet when officers returned in May after their initial investigation last April, they uncovered with a whopping 22 kg (48.5lbs) of horsemeat in the kitchen's freezer.
Zebra, as it turns out, is quite good for you. It has one-tenth the fat of beef and is leaner than chicken. Not convinced yet? Turns out the meat of our striped friend also has plenty of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.
But is it legal to buy zebra meat in the US, you ask? Apparently it is. An official with the Food and Drug Administration told Time that "Game meat, including zebra meat, can be sold [in the US] as long as the animal from which it is derived is not on the endangered species list."
Mirror Online reported that the investigation of The Steakhouse was initially launched after a spate of customer complaints appeared on sites like Tripadvisor. Customers claimed that they believed they had not received the exotic game they ordered. Said complaints ranged from reports that the llama meat was "tough" to saying that the zebra steak was too "sinewy".
Just this week, Mr. Soni, the owner, ended up receiving a yearlong conditional discharge and a $6,200 fine after pleading guilty to misinforming customers.
"The public must have confidence in the food that is put in front of them when eating out," explained Richard Thake, a cabinet member for community protection at Hertfordshire County Council. "Passing off food as something that it is not puts other competing businesses at a disadvantage and undermines trust in the market."
After all, if you're going out for a classy dinner of wildebeest or llama, you want to know that you're getting what you pay for.