Eating Black Beauty, and other culinary crimes

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Why is the idea so repugnant? Perhaps because our literature and culture have ascribed a certain nobility to horses (see “War Horse”). We grew up reading “National Velvet” and “Seabiscuit.” Native Americans depended on their steeds for hunting and fighting, and our favorite cowboys rode horses that they cherished and sometimes even stuffed when they died (see Roy Rogers and Trigger). To clarify, Roy stuffed Trigger, not the other way around. Dale Evans got away with a simple burial.

Unless you’re a vegan, you probably don’t object to eating buffalo and cows and pigs and chickens and ducks and elk and deer. In other countries, people eat guinea pigs (see Ecuador) and dogs (see China) and black scorpions on a stick (see the night market in Bangkok).

Bon appétit, I say, unless it’s a horse. When I was a kid, I remember that our dog was fed canned horse meat. Very gross. And I’m sure that if you love burgers, somehow, somewhere down the food chain, you’ve eaten something — maybe not horse meat — that is downright repulsive. That’s because my mother is absolutely right: Don’t eat hamburgers, especially not when you go out. If you prepare them at home and you purchase the meat from a reputable place, you have a reasonable chance of getting what you think you’re getting.

According to The New York Times, Italy is the biggest consumer of horse meat, followed by France and Belgium. It does make me wonder about all those meatballs I ate on the Via Veneto. A friend says her grandson went on a school ski trip to Switzerland and called home to say his dinner was a delicious horse meat brisket. That seems so wrong on so many levels. BTW, brisket makes me think of Jewish holidays, and horse meat isn’t kosher, because horses don’t have cloven hooves, among other requirements.
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