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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.