I should be asleep. I have to be up at 6 am tomorrow (does that time of day even exist?) because I have drawn morning shift. I should also not be finishing off this last half bottle but I’ll have all afternoon to get another one. Alarms are set, including the loudest one set at the far side of the room so I have to get out of bed to reach it. Heating is also set because if it’s freezing I know I’ll just get back into bed.
Anyway, I was thinking about this horse hooey we’re hearing about lately. Horse meat is safe to eat, it’s just that in the UK we don’t eat much of it. In China they eat dog. I tried it when I was there. It’s not bad, it’s a strong flavour but it’s okay in slices. When they brought out a roasted small dog with its little legs in the air, I admit I balked a bit, but then they had already tried to horrify us with pig stomach lining and other delicacies. We beat them though. I ate a raw garlic clove and another of us described what went into haggis. Bunch of softies, those Chinese. It’s not true that they’ll eat anything.
The issue with the horse meat isn’t that it’s unsafe. When I visited Marseilles (work again, I haven’t been far on holiday, it’s always work) I had enough O-level French to understand what ‘steak cheval’ meant. It’s on every menu. It’s herbivore meat, it’s lean and it’s perfectly safe to eat. As long as it’s properly done. In the UK, we don’t generally eat horse, so vets can pump sick ones full of drugs that they wouldn’t be able to use on cows or sheep. That’s the only risk, but it shouldn’t apply in countries where horse is a standard menu item. The countries the meat came from, in fact.
The real issue is that it was labelled ‘beef’. If people buy something labelled ‘beef’ they expect it to contain beef. If the Findus lasagne was labelled ‘horse’ it would not have stopped me eating it. But I do like to know what I’m buying. Tesco value brands are so cheap that I wouldn’t care if it was made of cat and hamster. Or even of hamsters fed on cat meat. It’s nondescript, dull, plain, barely tasteable but cheap. As long as what’s in it is safe to eat, I don’t care.
Now the whole thing has been blown into a ‘no safe level of meat’ campaign which looks very much like an attempt to denormalise meat-eating. Since smoking has been thoroughly hammered and drinking is well on the way to joining it through the same techniques, it must now be time to hit the meat-eaters and extol the virtues of a Paul McCartney diet. Great musician, I’d take advice on playing any instrument from the man, but he has no qualification as a dietician and I don’t even listen to people who have.
So now there is horse meat in everything. I’ll eat it. If they weren’t so fast I’d eat them raw. Shergarburger, anyone?
As a student, sharing with (among others) an imaginative Chinese guy with an Esher accent, I tried, and learned to cook, many things. Pig’s head brawn (made in rabbit-shaped jelly moulds). You could get a pig’s head for about 50p in those days. The whole thing, intact. It made a good slab of brawn and the eyes stuck to whatever you threw them at, which was sick but fun.
Duck’s feet. He found some and cooked them up. Bizarre. Shark steaks. Crab (starting from a live one). It helped that, at the time, Cardiff Indoor Market was a wild and pretty much regulation-free place. You could get anything in there. One day the cackling Chinaman came home with a cow’s head. He had a pint glass full of brain. “Look,” he said. “A pint of Brains”. (for the non-UK, ‘Brain’s’ is Cardiff’s local beer). Cow brain has little taste and has a texture like scrambled egg. You’re probably not allowed to eat it any more.
We once had squid, which did involve spending most of the following day getting the suckers off the doors and walls. If there hadn’t been vodka involved in the cooking process we’d have saved a lot of time.
Hearts are very filling, being solid muscle. With Valentine’s day approaching, you might want to woo your sweetheart with a special meal of stuffed lamb’s heart, or just send her one in the post with a note ‘I give you my heart’. That’s guaranteed to make her swoon.
The one thing we never could get was horse. If it had been available and cheap, we’d have had it for sure.
Horsemeat holds no fears for anyone. I’ll bet there are a lot of British tourists who have visited France and opted for ‘steak cheval’ because it was cheaper and they thought they were getting a cheap beef steak. None have suffered any ill effects. It’s just meat. Herbivore meat.
Incidentally, vegetarians and especially vegans are made of the same stuff.
Food for thought…