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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid