Watch this clip from The Neverending Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y688upqmRXo.
This is what went through my mind shortly after my first experience eating horse meat. We had just bought if from the chevaline (horse butcher), and we came home and ate it as a tartare…and god forgive me, it was delicious. Every bite was riddled with the flavor of forbidden fruit; I could hear the angels weeping as I gobbled it down, yet still, I couldn’t stop myself. What would Atreyu have thought of me? He never would have fished Artax out of the swamp of sadness only to eat him. But then, The Neverending Story wasn’t a French film.
I remember when I first found out that they eat horse meat in France.
“What, are you serious?” I looked at MB incredulously. We were still living in Australia…a country where this idea would be absurd (why would you eat a horse when there are kangaroos?).
“Ouais…c’est normal,” he responded nonchalantly, as we strolled through the grocery store.
“No,” I said. “No, it is not normal! How is that even legal? They are horses!”
He didn’t react.
“Horses,” I repeated, as though perhaps this emphasis would make The Yearling all of a sudden flash into his mind.
This was the end of the conversation.
In France, Seabiscuit wouldn’t have been Horse of the Year; he would have been dinner.
Coming to terms with this was, at first, shocking to me. In the United States, it is illegal to sell horse meat in most states; in the U.K. it is legal but basically no one sells it. Eating horse had just never previously occurred to me. Sure, I knew that in ancient times the Mongolians would throw horse meat under their saddle to tenderize it before eating it tartare style (which must have had an interesting raw-hide, sweaty essence to it); but that was in the olden days right? Not so much. Horses are eaten in lots of countries, all over the world; and really, how could one expect the French not to eat something that is edible? They have practically made a national pastime of frightening Anglos with their various “delicacies”. Why would horse be any different? Why should horse be any different? I mean, what is it that makes this animal less appetizing than a friendly cow or a cute little lamb?
And so it began…the rationalization that allowed me, the girl who cried when Boxer was sent to the glue factory in Animal Farm, to commit my horsey betrayal.
I have now eaten horse on two occasions.
I mean, it does make for the best tartare on earth, being both rich in flavor and essentially devoid of fat. Anyway, I have nothing to be ashamed of; lots of people do it. Stop judging me! Whatever, I don’t care; I know its okay. I’m fine with it; I don’t feel guilty…at all. So what if I haven’t been able to look a horse in the eye since? That doesn’t mean anything!