Europe is experiencing a full blow horse meat scandal, but that’s doesn’t mean you need to panic. In Paris, it’s actually becoming trendy to eat it.
A handful of chefs have started putting horse on their menus. Go to Les Tontons, for example, opposite the former Paris horse abattoir in the 15th arrondissement, and you can be served a succulent horse tartare (raw horse with egg and seasoning).
“Of course, it is perfectly apt because the original steak tartare was horse. The Mongol tribesmen ate their own horses and tenderised [sic] the steak under their saddles,” says owner Jean-Guillaume Dufour.
BBC UK says that there’s no evidence of the Mongol tenderizing tale, but I could see it being true. It makes for an awesome story either way. This isn’t a case of just one restaurant trying to grab some publicity. The same article goes on to say that it’s becoming more common.
“A number of restaurateurs have told me they are checking out where to buy top-quality horse meat. It’s all about a return to old values, a kind of nostalgia. And yes it is all rather trendy and Parisian. But there’s a frisson, no question about it.”
It isn’t just France riding the pony express either. Italy actually consumes twice as much as the white flags. If two of the culinary hotbeds of the world are willing to dabble in horse meat, I’m not going to immediately dismiss it.
I think the real issue is choice. We like to know what things are made of – ask any angry vegan – and decide for ourselves if that’s a product we want to consume. When people are misled to believe something is a happy cow and it turns out to be a horse, they get understandably angry. I don’t know if it’s because horses are pretty, more frequently pets than other animals, or we are still in their debt for centuries of transportation, but most people would prefer not to eat Seabiscuit.
The question is, will Americans ever join the horse meat trend?
Chef Peter McAndrews thinks so. He recently announced plans to serve the equine delicacy at his Sicilian restaurant Monsu in Bella Vista, even as European food outlets deal with fallout from the discovery of horse DNA in beef products.
Because of its use in Italian cuisine, those looking to enhance the authentic experience may want to give it a gallop. Once the starting gate is open, who knows how far it could go.
You don’t need to be concerned about My Little Pony burgers for now. According to NPR, The three horse hacking houses in the US were shuttered five years ago, and currently no horse meat is imported into the country. Because of this, it wouldn’t make sense to sneak Mr. Ed in your Beefy 5-Layer Burrito. It would actually cost them more. To this day, no one has ever accused a fast-food chain of intentionally making their production costs higher.