Could you imagine having Mr. Ed for dinner? Now imagine having Mr. Ed for dinner. There has recently been a resurgence in sales when it comes to horse meat. A new trend is developing on re-introducing old meat sources, and horses are quickly becoming less of a taboo when it comes to the menu. For the majority of mankind’s early existence wild horses were hunted as a source of protein.
WHAT DOES HORSE MEAT TASTE LIKE?
Horse meat has a stronger flavor than beef, has been described as slightly sweet, is very lean and usually quite tender. It is a major meat in only a few countries today, notably in Central Asia, but it forms a significant part of the culinary traditions of many others, from Europe to South America. The top eight countries consume about 4.7 million horses a year.
TABOO: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EATING PETS
As horses were used more for work and transportation, predominately in the UK and North America, horse was seen less as a source of food and more as a pet. Many of the meats commonly eaten in the past have become taboo by their companion status, including rabbit, turtle, and horse… of course.
There is quite a debate raging over whether horse meat should be made more readily available to the general public. The USDA actually promoted and spelled out the many benefits of eating horse, as well as having purchasing, preparation, and storing tips. Most people now feel that it is inhumane, that it is wrong, that it should even be illegal to eat horse.
TOP CHEF CANADA BEING BOYCOTTED
“Top Chef Canada” came under intensive fire over an episode in which one contestant was asked to prepare a dish using horse meat. While the show aired a Facebook group emerged, called “Boycott Top Chef — Protect the Horses” and the membership swelled to over 5,000 strong within minutes totally eclipsing the Top Chef Canada’s Facebook page of 3,500.
The Boycott Top Chef page lists the following information as the premise for the protest:
“Food Network’s TOP CHEF show is planning to air an episode where chefs are required to use horse in their dish: this season’s Episode 6
The majority of the public finds eating horse meat offensive. We are concerned about the bad precedent this may set. Horse slaughter is far less humane than beef. Horses are rarely raised for meat, so the source of horsemeat is our riding and racing horses. This means the meat is tainted with toxic or carcinogenic residue from drugs such as bute, dmso, steroids, lasix, antibiotics, and certain de-wormers. Horse meat is not a safe or acceptable food for Americans or Canadians.
We ask this show NOT be aired. And we ask viewers to boycott both the show and its sponsors if it does go on air. Please contact the sponsors and let them know WHY.”
- Basashi is a dish where horse meat is sliced and served raw in Japan.
- Kazakhstan food – Kazi, Karta, & Shuzhuk. Kazi and karta are boiled large intestine and stomach, respectively. Shuzhuk is a kind of sausage whose casing is small intestine filled with rib meat and fat.
- Pony Stroganoff- Yes, served on egg noodles. The US recipe calls for onion soup mix.
- Horse meat stew- France
MY TWO CENTS
I did a quick Facebook poll to see where people were at on this issue. I asked if they would eat horse.
56% said NO, they would not
44% said YES, they would
That seems a pretty even split, and leads me to believe that what really is happening here is not a good vs. evil fight, but more a difference of philosophy around food. As omnivores, humans eat ALL kinds of things, and horse is really not that far off the staple of many diets, pork and beef.
Many people would actually start to cringe when they think about the animal that plastic and Styrofoam wrapped roast came from, and perhaps even balk at bacon. It’s funny that the proponents of horse meat are generally those that actually work in the food and beverage industry or are passionate about fresh, high quality ingredients.
Would I eat horse meat? Yes, definitely. I may not make it a regular occurrence at my dinner table, but I personally believe that if an animal is respected in life, slaughtered humanely, and cooked to perfection, then dinner is served.
So… would you eat horse meat? Tell us in the comments!
Artwork: Marcos Oliveira