It’s summer now, tourist season – and maybe some of you are even dietary wayfarers, perennially off (when you get some vacation time) in search of new and interesting culinary experiences. Perhaps you have already sampled the renowned horseburger served up at the Hot Horse burger-stands in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a country where horsemeat is a normal part of the national culinary culture. Myself, I’m no sort of dietary tourist, but I’ve done that; I can recommend it, and the delightful city of Ljubljana generally.
Now the Czech daily Lidové noviny brings word today of a new gastronomic challenge along this line: camelburgers! A fast-food restaurant in Saudi Arabia’s own capital, Riyadh, is now offering its customers hamburgers made from camel-meat, and owner Saleh Kuvaisi is happy to explain to the press why he thinks this will be a big hit. “It’s all about the love people here have for camel meat,” he declares, and indeed the article notes that upper-scale restaurants in the Kingdom have long offered their customers camel “delicacies” (pochoutky) such as livers. Still, the article does give the impression that this rather has more to do with the regard Saudis have for camels per se, namely as fond tokens of the Bedouin existence from the good old days that they harken back to as the origin of their Arab culture, even as at present they are much more likely to get around in some sort of Toyota pick-up.
In any event, camel burger (that is, ground camel-meat), is still something new, but you wonder how it is that nobody ever thought of it before. The meat is said to be particularly low in fat compared to other animals (the same goes for camel milk, by the way); one camelburger customer is quoted in the article as approvingly noting that aspect and also praising the meat’s “refined taste.” And a certain Walid Sanchez, who according to the article runs a popular Internet guide to Saudi Arabian restaurants*, asserts to the reporter that camelburgers are bound to be popular, because Saudis generally are open to new things gastronomic – but then again, of course they will like them all the better if these things have local origins.
There you have it, then, another gourmet experience to put on your personal bucket list. This one might pose a particular challenge, though: there’s no such thing as a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia, you either need to be a Muslim going there on pilgrimage to Mecca or else have some other practical reason to be allowed inside the Kingdom – and I don’t think “having a camelburger at Saleh’s joint” will cut it!
* I have to note with disapproval here that this LN article mentioned Sanchez and his website, but only generically and without providing the URL; that I had to go find for you, dear readers, using the power of Google.