As a child, I recall Gill saying on more than one occasion, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” Fortunately for her, she’s now in a position to do just that. Britain has a scandal (not newsworthy in itself, given the proclivity the country has for sensational stories) about grocery stores selling horse meat for human consumption. I believe it was a Tesco store found with its pants down, or its meat mixed, as the case may be.
I can’t really understand the fuss…except for the false labelling bit. I guess some religious groups have been angered that it was mixed with pork or lamb…a sacrilege apparently, but who’s to know, really? Oh…but I thought The Deity WAS all-knowing. Shouldn’t SHE have seen that horse meat coming in time to warn Tesco customers?
But, please, have we never seen false advertising before? How about the cereals that purport to contain ‘real fruit’ when the bits are simply artificially produced blue and red bits flavoured to taste like berries? Or the ‘whole wheat’ bread that is about as white as Anderson Cooper’s pasty face? Or the ’all natural’ food product that is only natural to a chemical factory? Please spare me the righteous indignation, people. And as Gill pointed out to me,”If you pay a pound-and-a-half for meat, you gotta figure it’s not prime Angus beef!” As soon as she made that quip, I was reminded of her recent debacle with a ‘beef’ roast. She went to the store and got something red that looked like meat in the shape of a roast. When I enquired as to the cut, she retorted testily:”It was the five quid cut of beef…” Yes, well…you get what you pay for.
All the horse lovers are crying foul for mincing the noble beast and selling it to humans. I love Black Beauty as much as the next person, but what’s the difference between this horse and Bessie the cow or Porky the pig? We eat them with no qualms, adding a few veggies and gravy to taste–except for the vegans who have already taken their qualms and deserted the ranks.
The rest of the world eats a variety of animals. In the American south, a barbeque isn’t a barbeque without some raccoon or gator meat. And Europeans have been known to eat ‘strange’ animals. But maybe that’s the real root of the problem. The Brits hate to be seen as crass, unfeeling, or as loutish as those awful Europeans. Nosirree…the Brits will ride their horses, use them as they kill other animals during a hunt, and probably make them into glue at the end, but they WILL NOT MINCE!
I recall discovering, when living in Berkeley many years ago, a wonderful pet shop that sold fresh horse meat. I had never heard of this before, but the owner of the store was careful to cover his butt with a window sign that proclaimed “Not For Human Consumption”. He was also quick to add, with a wink and a nod, that he wasn’t totally convinced that some of his customers adhered to that.
I also recall the one time I went off meat…and is I believe, to this day, what may have prompted Gill’s sometimes problematic relationship to it. We were living in Germany, in a quaint village in the Black Forest. (Sidenote: beware quaint!) I was delighted to discover, as the mother of young children, that our apartment was above a small food store. It carried the usual staples — milk, bread, eggs. It also had a rather extensive butcher counter. I was thrilled — for a week. On the first day of our second week there, I was awakened by a loud “Thwump”. It was followed shortly thereafter by a second and a third crash. Looking over our balcony, we saw a farm cart with dead animal carcasses lying in it. The heads were separate. It turns out that the shop below was also an abattoir cum sausage factory. Once a week, the farm animals were brought in, slaughtered, and ground, smoked and chopped into our lunch and dinner. In retrospect, I’m not sure if I was more grossed out by the headless carcasses in the cart or the smoke that permeated everything in the building (including us, our apartment, and our clothes) with the smell of smoked meat. (At parties, we gave the real food a run for its money, sniff-wise.) Since Gill had occasion to view these carcasses (by accident), I blame her P.T.S.D. nightmares of Burmese rebels living under her bed and her foray into vegetarianism on that. The only thing that saved her and brought her back to the world of meat-eating people was her Crohn’s disease. Life(and digestion) is better for her when she eats meat. Veggies and fruit can sometimes be cruel.
Gill was less upset by the current horse meat scandal than I expected she’d be. After all, this was also the child who was accustomed to seeing a frozen rabbit in our freezer — no thanks to a quack nutritionist trying to treat my kids’ food allergies. But I suppose once you’ve seen adorable little Thumper lying in state in your freezer, your sympathy for a horse pales in comparison. Surely Britain has bigger problems than horse meat. Perhaps another sex scandal about small children being diddled by celebrities or some such? Perspective, people, perspective!