Breakfast of Champion (the Wonder Horse)

by Andrew Stuttaford

Europe’s tasty horsemeat scandal canters on, providing hours of fun for photoshoppers, triggering speculation about disappearing Irish horses, fuelling euroskeptic discontent,  and  offering a series of entertaining revelations such as this story about an Amsterdam steakhouse (it is worth it for the picture of the cook with his frying pan alone).

Of course, consumers have a contractual right to expect that they are getting the meat they think that they are paying for (raising some interesting questions as to what could reasonably expected of a kebab), but some of the furor is just sentimental venting, and, as such venting generally is, it’s ridiculous. Horse? Cow? Whatever.

The Spectator’s Bruce Anderson is not a sentimental man:

[A] group of us were discussing horse–eating, marvelling at the confusion and sentimentality of our fellow countrymen while telling hippophagic anecdotes. I mentioned a typically Provençal street market in Apt. There had been a group of horses. They were not looking happy. More intelligent than Boxer on his way to the knacker’s, they clearly sensed that the good days were over and were summoning reserves of stoicism to help them through the (brief) final phase. ‘What’s going to happen to those horses?’ inquired an English female member of the party. ‘Well, er, it is either the Sunday Joint Derby or the Hamburger Cup.’ ‘Oh no, I can’t bear it.’ I tried to console her by pointing out that in France, clapped-out old nags at least had the privilege of joining the human food chain. In the UK, it would have been the dog-food stakes (or so one then thought).

…It did not help matters when someone revealed that I had bought both saucisson d’âne and saucisson de cheval from a stall, although I expressed doubts about the âne. ‘Every Provençal market overflows with the stuff,’ I said, ‘but you never see any donkeys in the fields.’ ‘That’s because they’ve all been eaten by heartless monsters like you,’ came the quick and obvious rejoinder. ‘Even so, there ought to be paddocks full of young Eeyores braying, regardless of their doom: scoffing grass and, one hopes, the odd apple to fatten -themselves up for next year’s saucisson harvest.’

As the news from Europe now makes clear, I’ve obviously snacked on horse myself rather more frequently than I realized. I have, however, only eaten it on purpose on one occasion, in Brussels. Horseburger. Nice enough, as I recall, but not a patch on the puffin—oh yes—that  I once enjoyed in Iceland.

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