It’s a move reserved for only the most elite zoo visitors, those who have been around the block too many times to limit their dining options to basic snack stand burgers and hot dogs: ordering off menu at the San Diego Zoo. Whether you’re looking to show off your privileged zoo status in front of some friends or just happen to have the money to treat yourself, here’s the ultimate guide to help you get the job done.
Know the name of the entrée you want: If you’re looking for the quickest way to let everyone around you know that you’re a full-blown San Diego Zoo VIP by ordering an exotic off-menu meal, knowing the actual name of the entrée you want is your best bet. The mix of awe and jealousy on the faces of everyone holding hot dogs and hamburgers when you coolly say to the cashier at the Treetops Café, “Give me the bonobo filet with a side of charred oats,” or, “Camel tenderloin in bordelaise sauce for me right now,” will make all of the preparation beforehand totally worth it.
Know the recipe: While it’s definitely a good idea to know the names of the off-menu entrées, you don’t want to rely on that only, because the employee working the counter at the zoo’s pretzel stand may not be used to a high roller like yourself ordering a “Tropical Toucan Jaw Pie” or “Brandied Armadillo With Fig On It” and might not know what it is. So to avoid confusion and a total line stall when you’re ordering a “Flamingo Quatre Mignon,” for example, be ready to explain that it’s simply a family of four flamingoes tied up with a thick rope, cooked rare but not too bloody, and absolutely drenched in soy sauce and liquid sugar. Trust us: When you’re dealing with a peasant cashier who doesn’t understand the needs of the upper zoo class, this will make all the difference.
Pick out the exact animal you want: Half the fun of ordering off menu at the San Diego Zoo is marching up to the exhibit where your desired meal lives and pointing to the exact animal you want to eat. Any zoo employee will be able to help you after you explain that you will donate the money for a new reptile house just as soon as they fish the koala with the white stripe on his back out of the outback enclosure so one of the chefs can sauté its little paws with some garlic.
Don’t be afraid to mix animals: Remember, the San Diego Zoo wants to keep customers happy so they keep coming back, so definitely don’t feel weird about asking for a combination meal that feels pretty complicated. And it’s not like you’d be the first person to ever take out your AmEx black card and ask them to stick a caramelized armadillo inside of a white tiger inside of a slightly bigger white tiger, tossing the whole thing into a haystack, and serving up “The Safari Threesome’s Salad.” So really, don’t hesitate to make an epic combination meal!
Dress the part: Last but not least, when you’re ordering a severed giraffe neck rolled up into a circle and topped with caramelized cinnamon apples, you should look like someone who’s order a severed giraffe neck rolled up into a circle and topped with caramelized cinnamon apples before. The zoo employees probably won’t go the extra mile for some schlub wearing a sleeveless T-shirt with Goofy on it and jeans so long that your New Balances are stomping on the ends of the pant legs, totally wearing them out and making the denim get all stringy. So as a last consideration, you’ll want to wear your best, biggest suit or lace gown so everyone can tell just by looking at you that you have the means to afford an exotic zoo delicacy. If you dress to the nines, along with following the rest of these guidelines, you’ll be enjoying a treat reserved for only the wealthiest of the wealthy zoo visitors in no time.
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