Horse meat has reared it’s ugly head again in the press, with news of equine flesh being substituted for beef on a number of European food production lines. The surreptitious switching of meat is a despicable act, but what if you knew you were being served horse meat. Would you eat it?
I grew up a hop, skip and a gymkhana jump away from a riding stables and rode weekly from the age of 4-17. One of my earliest memories is not being able to find Rum — the short, stocky, black shetland pony — who was to be my ride one Sunday morning. He was the smallest of all the shetlands, and also distinguishable by the bright red girths that strapped the saddle to his broad back. But for whatever reason, i couldn’t find him in the cobble-stoned courtyard where dozens of ponies were tethered awaiting their allocated riders. So i burst into tears. Over the years, i moved on from Rum, to Sid, and Billy, then William a placid, ginger-haired pony i adored. By the end of my horse-riding hobbyist days — when a boyfriend and pub crawling became more interesting — i was riding Zelda, a flighty, dappled grey mare I had no control over whatsoever. She’d throw me off her back several times a session. Relishing the challenge, I always jumped straight back on.
My English summers were spent happily mucking out stables, polishing saddles and cantering around nearby woodlands and hills. So no, i wouldn’t eat horse meat. It’d be like ripping the heart out of my childhood and throwing it on a sizzling hot charcoal grill, or like tearing the spine out of the Pony Club paperbacks i read voraciously (yearning to be the 14-year old heroine who was usually called something like Sabrina and who had a palomino pony called something like Sybil), and throwing the pages in the air.
But that’s just me. What about you? Are you a horse lover, a galloping gastronome with a taste for the unusual/bizarre, or is horse meat a cultural norm for you?