News / Europe

Don't Say Nay to Horsemeat - French Eaters

Complex trading between wholesalers has made it increasingly difficult to trace the origins or destination of food like the horsemeat disguised as beef being sold in frozen meals across Europe’s open borders, February 11, 2013.
Complex trading between wholesalers has made it increasingly difficult to trace the origins or destination of food like the horsemeat disguised as beef being sold in frozen meals across Europe’s open borders, February 11, 2013.
Reuters
In a dingy Parisian back street, diners at a one-of-a-kind bistro tuck lustily into breaded horse brain, pan fried heart of horse and broiled cheek, along with prime rump steaks the chef cuts from the bone himself.

Seasoned aficionados queuing at one of the few horse butchers left in Paris say they prefer theirs raw as minced "tartare," pepped up with olive oil, lemon juice and pepper.

If the thought of having eaten Romanian cart horses in mislabelled frozen lasagne is making Britons choke, a loyal minority in France laments a dwindling appetite for a meat they say is a tastier and healthier alternative to beef.
 

"I understand people are upset if what they thought was beef turned out to be old Romanian ponies, but when horses are reared properly it's a delicious meat," said Gerard Marin, 67, at his weekly visit to one of a dozen surviving horse butchers in a city that 30 years ago counted hundreds. "It's much tastier than beef and has much less fat. Young people today eat nothing but processed meals, kebabs and other rubbish - they don't know what they're missing."
 

France's taste for horesmeat dates back to when 18th Century revolutionaries seized the fallen aristocracy's horses to sate their hunger. It flourished for two centuries until falling out of fashion with a more squeamish younger generation.


The French now consume less than 300 grams (0.66 lbs) per person per year, a fifth of what they ate 30 years ago and less than 1 percent of the total meat they consume.


While fans say horsemeat is high in iron and more organic than mass-produced beef or battery hens, horse butchers are now a rarity. Le Taxi Jaune bistro in the labyrinthine Marais district is one of a tiny handful of Paris eateries serving it.


Another restaurant, Septime, occasionally serves it as raw tartare accompanied with wild strawberries and tarragon cream.


"I don't serve easy dishes. But you come to a restaurant to eat something different," said Otis Lebert, Le Taxi Jaune's head chef, who also works with wild boar and whole ducks, and serves locally sourced vegetables that change with the month.


His horse brain starter has a subtly sweet flavour, while the steak has a hint of gaminess and a slightly metallic tang.


Finely-sliced cured horse sausage is also on offer.


"My clients know I take care to buy fresh meat and debone it myself. I never work with pre-packed meat. What shocks me is the way food wholesalers are taking people for a ride," he said.


Bloody is best


Overruling a 732 Papal ban, France legalised the eating of horsemeat in 1866 when poor families struggled to afford pork and beef. Many more were forced to eat it when the 1870-71 Prussian Siege of Paris caused severe meat shortages.
 

Today many French are sentimental about horses and regard eating horsemeat as something their grandparents did, much like the British think of eating pigs trotters, tripe or wild rabbit.
 

Yet as anger grows over the discovery that ready meals on sale across Europe contained horsemeat rather than the beef described on the label, some say that view is short-sighted.
 

They point out that horsemeat carries 110 calories per 100 grams compared to 160 calories for beef and contains far more cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids.


As long as it is not shipped pre-packed in plastic, where its high iron content means it oxidises faster than beef and can turn acidic, they say it tastes better and is more tender.


"I never buy beef. I prefer horse meat, it tastes better and it's cheaper," said Catherine Clerc, 42, who claims to have converted friends after cooking them horse roasts at home.


She buys horse meat weekly from a local market and likes it best as raw tartare, but otherwise serves it rare with potatoes, garlic and salad. "I like it really bloody," she whispered.
 

A 37-year-old karate expert queuing behind Marin at the horse butcher, which sports two neon horse heads above its door, said he finds horse meat lighter to digest.


"I'm very sporty. Beef sits heavy on my stomach. Horse meat is less fatty, it goes down better," he said. He is dreading the day this butcher's shop closes, he said.


Butcher Jocelyne Lamire, 63, says her daughters have office jobs and she supposes her shop will end up as a takeaway food joint or clothing outlet like the nine other butchers that have closed in her street in the past few years.


"My clientele is getting older and it's not being renewed," she said, as an assistant hacked at chunks of horse flesh with a cleaver. "People nowadays don't shop at traditional butchers. They spend their money on takeaway junk that is not nutritious."

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs