McDonald's is coming to Kazakhstan, and in news that will revive Borat jokes wherever it spreads, the menu may feature a horsemeat burger. Is not nice!
Kazakhstan's first McDonald's will be owned by Kairat Boranbayev, the CEO of Kazakhstan's largest holding group, Almaly Asset Management Company. Boranbayev used to head up Kazakhstan's state-run natural gas business, and his daughter is married to the Kazakh president's grandson. He already owns 11 McDonald's locations in Belarus, and has poured $3.5 million into the 9,000-square-foot location in the Kazakh capital of Astana. McDonald's and Boranbayev say they plan to open 15 more restaurants in Kazakhstan in the next five years.
With the addition of Kazakhstan, McDonald's now operates in 120 countries. As they often do, McDonald's tailors the menu to local tastes: there's a McRice burger and McSpaghetti in the Philippines; an open-faced refried beans, cheese, and pico de gallo number in Mexico and Latin America; and a bratwurst Nürnburger in Germany. So naturally, in Kazakhstan they may offer horse burgers.
Horsemeat is very popular in Kazakhstan, a country filled with steppes and flatlands where horses have been essential to long-distance travel throughout its history. Kazy, a boiled horse sausage, is considered the ultimate delicacy; it's served to guests and on special occasions. NPR reports that the Kazakh Olympic team fought to be allowed to bring kazy to the 2012 London games.
"We'll try to adjust our consumers' requests and cater to Kazakh national cuisine," Boranbayev said.
McDonald's corporate hasn't said anything about the horsemeat, but they announced the restaurant's impending opening on their website.
"We're proud to bring McDonald's to Kazakhstan," wrote Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's President and CEO. "We look forward to becoming a part of the local culture and delivering a modern and progressive restaurant experience as we continue to grow our Brand [sic] internationally."
If McDonald's in Kazakhstan does ultimately serve a McHorse burger, it at least will be intentional. Burger King once had to drop an Irish beef supplier after some of its Whoppers sold throughout the UK were found to have traces of horsemeat.
Though the horse burger isn't confirmed, if and when it's added to the menu you're going to have to hoof it over to Kazakhstan if you want to try it. And if you do, watch what you say about it—a joke about horse-penis sausage recently got a guy deported from Kyrgyzstan.