Big scandal in the European Union about horse meat masquerading as beef. Neither in Europe nor in this country do people really understand the story. Good thing I am here with my cross-cultural skills!
First things first and a confession: I ate much horse meat as a child, something like twice or three times a week. It was cheaper than beef. The horse butcher was half a block from the beef butcher. Horse meat was cheaper. My mother was concerned that her sons would not develop the right kind or quantity of hormones if they didn’t get red meat at every meal. Well, I don’t want to appear immodest or lacking in humility but it appears that my mother was right about the effect of horse meat on virility!
We ate ground horse meat barely singed. It tasted good, a lot like beef, in fact but also a little sweet. We did not feel sorry for the horses. There was a horsey set in France but it did not live in the government housing where I grew up. We did not know any of them although we read about some of them in the tabloids. Long story short: There is no particular health hazard associated with horse meat if it’s normally inspected. It’s probably less dangerous than say, chicken.
If you want to know more about those times and that place, you will have to read my memoirs: “I Used to Be French….” (Excerpts on this blog.)
Europeans are up in arms for various reasons. In the UK, perhaps elsewhere, they are angry for sentimental reasons. I suspect the horsey set in the UK includes almost everyone. In most other countries, including France, the annoyance is about something else. Let me remind you that the French eat everything, including the inside of crabs, blood sausage, garden snails, and whole little birds (the latter, plucked but not gutted). They are only royally pissed off because their way of doing things is failing again.
Businesses in the European Union operate under mountains of regulations. (Why, they even have rules there to determine the color of strawberry jam.) Europeans are more finicky and more superstitious about the health qualities of food than anyone in America except in Santa Cruz and in Berkeley. In recent years, they flattered themselves that they had elaborated a masterful regulatory system to trace the origin of what they eat down to the smallest detail. It makes food every expensive but it’s worth it, they think, for the security it gives you.
Well, Europeans are angry because their mass of regulations is not even up to the level of my four-year old granddaughter when it comes to distinguishing between a cow and a horse. She knows the horse is the one that does not have horns, except the unicorn, of course. That’s it, without knowing it, Europeans have been eating the unicorns of government regulations!