Unashamed carnivore? Have we got a treat for you…!
I make no bones about it: I love eating meat. A beer and a burger, a delicious juicy steak, fried chicken, pork knee, ribs, my Nan’s amazing meat and potato pie… These, to me, are food heaven. For all of you proud carnivores like me out there, this one’s for you. I challenge you to read it through without your mouth starting to water!
Aussies love eating meat. The average Australian will consume 93 kg (205 lbs) of meat every year. The whole “throw another shrimp on the barbie” might be a cliche, but it’s a cliche because it’s true. No other country does a barbecue quite like Australia – piles of great meat, lots of beer and great weather.
Beef is really where it’s at; the meat pie is your classic Aussie comfort food. Tender beef and dark gravy in a flaky, golden pastry, it’s rich, hearty and delicious. Alternatively, go into any burger restaurant and ask to have one with “the lot”. Observe in amazement or horror as they pile just about everything they can onto your patty before you can attempt to eat it.
Of course lamb is also a staple of the cuisine Down Under, Aussies eat more sheep than any other nation; Sunday roasts and barbecues are incomplete without a few chops or a shank. Indeed, for proof of Australia’s carnivorous tendencies, look no further than the fact they have an official website devoted to the juicy cuts. Fantastic.
Of all the countries of South America, most people think of Argentina when it comes to meat production and consumption, and they’re right to do so; Argentinian beef is world famous, and while Argentina produces a lot, their little eastern neighbour eats more beef per head (83kg, or 183 lbs, annually) than any other country on the continent.
Like the Aussies, Uruguayans love a barbecue. It’s called an asado, and, like the word barbecue, refers to both the cooking technique and the social event. Everything is prepared on a huge, special grill called a parrilla and involves not only cuts of meat, but often organs too.
Uruguayan cuisine is often European-influenced. You’ll find things like milanesa, which is similar to a schnitzel, but made with (surprise, surprise) beef, or sometimes chicken. Chivito is a traditional sandwich filled with sliced steak, ham, cheese and mayonnaise, and there’s a good selection of sausages, including the pancho (basically a hot dog) and the more acquired taste of the morcilla dulce – a blood sausage which is slightly on the sweet side because it’s flavoured with raisins or walnuts.
Despite the wide choice of seafood dishes and other meats popular throughout the Philippines, the real star is the pig. That’s right, your average oinker is present in an awful lot of Filipino cuisine, and if it isn’t the main ingredient, there’ll often be bits of pork or pork fat used to flavour the dishes.
One example of this is called sisig and it’s made of (and there’s no way I can make this any than what it is) the face and head of the pig, as well as the liver. The head is boiled to remove any hair, then parts of it are lopped off and then grilled with chopped onions. Finally the whole lot is served on a sizzling hot plate, and flavoured with lime juice and chili. It’s become something of a national treasure, food-wise.
If chopped up pig face isn’t doing it for you, there’s adodo (a chicken and pork casserole flavoured with white vinegar and soy sauce), binagoongang (sliced pork, fried with tomato, garlic and onion, served with rice), or crispy pata (pigs trotters, boiled then deep fried to give a crispy, golden skin). So as I said, there are many other dishes available, of course, but the pig really is the star.
The only country on this list in which goat is a staple meat, no visit to Kenya would be complete without eating nyama choma. The name simply means roasted meat, and is usually goat (although beef and chicken can sometimes be found). It’s simply cuts roasted to delicious perfection ’til the meat slides off the bone, and is served on a communal cutting board, often with only a pile of salt to be used as a seasoning. Simple, and ludicrously tasty.
Those meats mentioned above can also form the basis of thick, meaty stews, along with carrots, peppers or potatoes, and mchuzi mix, a blend of herbs and spices that’s an essential ingredient in a lot of Kenyan cooking.
Another goaty product is mutura, a protein-rich sausage made of goat insides and blood. It’s boiled until it’s almost cooked through, then thrown onto a searing hot grill to dehydrate it and give it a sensationally smoky taste. It’s the perfect thing to eat with a cold glass of beer on a hot, east African day.
The beautiful Mediterranean island of Sardinia is a popular destination for sun-lovers who want to lie on its gorgeous beaches and swim in the sparkling blue sea. However, venture inland a little and you may come across one of the island’s oldest – and tastiest – traditions. We’re talking about su porcheddu.
For at least three hours, a suckling pig is rotated slowly on a spit over an open log fire, and is eventually served perfectly roasted in its own mouthwatering juices. The hours of waiting are worth it!
Naturally, there’s a number of excellent seafood dishes to try on the island (lobster, for example, or the local octopus salad, a delicate dish flavoured with lemon, garlic, parsley and olive oil). But something else that’s genuinely local and readily available – particularly around Easter time when it’s eaten most – is stewed lamb with artichokes. Both the lamb and the artichokes will be locally sourced and cooked with love and pride, so enjoy!
A true melting pot of history and culture, Macedonia mixes the best of Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East into its cooking, and the result is colourful, varied and delicious. The entire region is known for its love of all manner of grilled meats (often paired with a glass or two of the local wine), so let’s explore further…
Kebapche, also known as ćevapi, is the local kebab-style food. Minced, spiced meat is moulded into the shape of a sausage, grilled, and served with fresh flatbread and kajmak, a sort of sour cream. For something heavier in the winter time, why not try selsko meso, smoked pork or beef, roasted in a traditional earthenware pot along with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and spices – ultimate comfort food.
Another vaguely similar dish is podvarok, a stew of pork and cabbage, or you could be more adventurous and go with skopski kukurek, boiled and baked lamb’s intestines served with sweet bread, paprika and garlic, and mixed with sour milk.
Japan is known most widely I suppose for its sushi and its seafood, but there’s a lot going on for the real carnivore in you as well. I mean, this is a country that eats KFC as a Christmas meal for goodness’ sake. (Back story: in 1974, KFC began a Kentucky For Christmas advertising campaign in Japan that was so successful it just seemed to stick around, and is now a widely practised tradition).
Some of the world’s most rare and exquisite beef comes from Japan, and the city of Kobe specifically. Kobe beef is known for its marbled fat that melts like butter; its melting point is far lower than that of any other beef fat. You’ll pay for it though: you’re looking at around $150 for a ribeye steak.
For something that won’t break the bank, try tonkatsu, breaded, fried pork served with shredded cabbage, or (and it’s back to the fried chicken thing again), karaage, deep fried, bite-sized pieces of chicken that have been marinated in sake, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Amazing.
Take many people’s typical image of a German, and I’m guessing it’ll involve lederhosen, a comically oversized beer, and some sausages. Possibly an accordion as well, I don’t know. Some of the names of their meat dishes have taken on an almost stereotypical quality too: schnitzel, sauerbraten, bratwurst and so on.
Because of the nature of the dishes, a lot of the meat in German cuisine is not necessarily the finest cut – these were the foods of the lower orders, the peasants – but that doesn’t mean they’re not delicious. In fact, due to the fact they have to be softened and tenderised, dishes like the aforementioned sauerbraten can be left to marinate in a mixture of wine, vinegar, herbs and spices for up to ten days, before being slowly cooked to tender, mouthwatering perfection.
Pork is the hero of German meat dishes, the humble pig providing chops, ribs, knee and shoulder joints, hocks, the proper German schnitzel meat (Wienerschnitzel, the Viennese example, uses veal rather than pork) and, last but not least, sausages. The Germans produce a dizzying array of sausages, from your street food staple of the currywurst (a personal favourite), through liver sausage, blood sausage and the stumpy, garlicky knackwurst. All are good.
Biltong is, slowly but surely, becoming something of a go-to snack for bars in the US and Europe, but it was in South Africa that it first became popular. Dried strips of spiced meat, usually beef or ostrich, it’s the perfect accompaniment to having a beer and watching a bit of rugby.
They do great sausages too, one of the most popular being boerewors, a beef and pork combo spiced with coriander and, when stuffed into a white bread roll with fried onions and sauce, an excellent hangover food (well, you’ve spent all evening watching rugby and drinking beer, you need this!).
For a bit of Afrikaans fare, go for the hoenderpastei, a homely chicken pie topped with a crisp pastry crust, and layered with vegetables, eggs and sliced ham. But, like a lot of things, it’s often with whom, rather than what, that’s important. South African actress Kate Liquorish, creator of the Kitchen Hacks video series says: “More important for me than the dishes themselves, is the pairing of these dishes with authentic experiences in authentic surroundings.” So now you know.
Naturally, here’s where we finish. Burgers as big as a human head, steaks the size of a dustbin lid, you know the deal. In which other nation would something like the Heart Attack Grill exist? A restaurant in Las Vegas, its boast is that the burgers are so huge and fatty that if you have an actual heart attack while eating your meal, you get it for free.
The choice is seemingly endless. What about a classic Southern barbecue? Ribs, steak and sticky sauces to lick from your fingers. Alaskan salmon, delicate and nutritious. The bizarre chicken and waffle combination. Buffalo wings. The Philly cheese steak. Smithfield ham. Fish tacos. Chili con carne.
Right, I’m off to get something to eat.