Wednesday, February 27, 2013

They Eat Horses, Don’t They?

When I lived in Portland, Oregon, in the ‘60s, I bought horse meat at what I am trying to recall was called “The Horse Meat Market” downtown near the “The Buttermilk Corner.”

I hadn’t thought about that all these years— until last week’s breaking news that horse meat was found in European countries in what was had been thought to be mixtures of beef and pork. And —is nothing sacred?-- found in Ikea meatballs.

One can’t necessarily vouch for the veracity of anything recalled about the ‘60s but I do recall buying a “round steak,” absolutely red, with absolutely no fat. At the Horse Meat Market. I cooked it and ate it. As my father used to ask me: do you do things because you want to save money or because you want to go back a hundred years? I think I bought horse meat because it was cheap and because — if I were going to eat red meat — I heard it was good for me.

I still try to save money and I still try to eat wisely but I haven’t seen horse meat on the butcher racks since the ‘60s. Why not?

According to Eric Niler, writing on “Why Are Americans Squeamish About Horse Meat?”, “Mongolians love it. So do Bulgarians, Swiss, Belgians and French. But Americans -- no way. Eating horse meat is a culinary taboo that started early in our nation's history and continues today. Food experts say it's a distaste that is part emotional and part economic: we love our horses and even if we didn't, we're a wealthy country that can afford to eat choicer cuts of meat.”

Is it hard to think about eating or to actually eat Mr. Ed, Black Beauty, Silver, Trigger...? I’m sure some people have the same problem with Bugs, Daffy, Donald, Porky and Bambi.

Back to horse meat: According to Wikipedia, Mexico was or is the second largest producer of horse meat in the world.

There is a thriving horse meat business in Quebec, and horse meat found in Vancouver, B.C., was described by a Time Magazine reviewer as “sweet, rich, superlean, oddly soft meat, closer to beef than venison."

In Japan, order it as basashi, thinly sliced raw pieces dipped in soy sauce with ginger and onions.

And in England, Alex Renton in The Guardian blogs on “How Britain got a taste for horsemeat”:

“Restaurants and pubs up and down the country are serving up horse steaks. So where should you go for yours? Could horse catch on? It is half the price of beef and undeniably delicious. I went to a steak tasting at Edinburgh's L'Escargot Bleu bistro at the height of the scandal. Chef and patron Fred Berkmillar had packed in 12 Scottish foodies, cooks and meat suppliers and gave us rump steaks to try. One was the best 30-day-aged Orkney beef, the other Comtois horse, farmed in the Dordogne.

“You could have confused the horse with beef, but its steak – juicy, tender, just slightly gamey – won the fry-off by 12 votes to none. And we were all the better for it: horse has lots of  iron, little fat and lots of omega-3. It is healthier than beef, so long as you're not eating an old steeplechaser laced with phenylbutazone. It is not true, by the way, that "bute" is one of those horse painkillers with recreational possibilities.”

I was going to go on about d-o-g but Joe Spike my d-o-g sitting next to me is growling so I’ll stop with horse.

-- Mike Sato


  1. I had horse salami last fall. It was very good.

    1. Salami from where? While certainly not the last word, a pretty complete word on the current subject:


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