In France, horse falling off restaurant menus

I don’t know whether to thank Reuters for running this story or just be weirded out that people eat horse. I saw this story though and had to share. I couldn’t find a picture of the poster they talk about anywhere. Anyone out there ever eaten horse? Would anyone out there do it if they had too? I can tell you know that I would rather die then kill my babies. Both would be too fatty anyway 😛 This is such an odd news story.
By Sophie Taylor Sophie Taylor Tue Dec 15, 3:09 pm ET
PARIS (Reuters) – Many people love horses and traditionally, many French people have loved them even more with a side of salad.

That passion, however, has slowed to a trickle in the last couple of years as crisis-hit French consumers buy less meat and years of campaigning by animal rights groups take effect.

Looking to ram home their advantage, campaigners have launched a pre-Christmas blitz in Paris featuring posters of riding school ponies and graceful yearlings aimed at rending the hardest of hearts.

“Every year in France, riding school horses like Caramel are sent to the abattoir,” says one poster by the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, featuring a photo of a perky grey pony reflected in a knife blade.

“It disturbs us that people continue to eat horses at all and we are going to go on campaigning until people stop eating it altogether,” said Constance Cluset, a spokeswoman for the animal welfare group created by the former actress.

Last year, 15,820 horses were killed for their meat in France, of which over 7,000 were imported from abroad.

The group, whose campaign was timed to coincide with a horse fair, is pushing for a legislative bill to modify horses’ legal status to companion from production-type animals such as sheep.

While horse meat is traditionally cheaper than other animals, the financial crisis has only pushed consumers to buy more chicken, according to French agriculture ministry figures.

Consumption of horse meat has fallen 12 percent in the last two years and currently makes up less than 1 percent of all meat consumed in France, the ministry said in a report.

And while only a few years ago horse meat was relatively easy to find, now it takes more time to track it down.

“Horse is indeed a French dish, but you’d be very hard-pressed to find it in any restaurants now,” said the chef at restaurant Le Central in Paris, adding: “There’s so much publicity against it.”

Accounts vary on how France first took to eating equines.

Some historians say the country’s appetite for horse meat dates from the Battle of Eylau in 1807, when the chief surgeon of Napoleon’s army advised famished soldiers to feast on fallen horses on the battlefield.

The story adds that the cavalry cooked the trusted steeds using their breastplates as cooking pans.


7 thoughts on “In France, horse falling off restaurant menus

  1. I went to summer school in France when I was in college. We ate in this tiny restaurant for dinner every night where we were “pre-paid”. The waiter would rattle off two or three choices using about 1000 words per second and one of us would take a stab at translating (we had all had several years of French in high school and college but we still had a hard time with native speakers who really didn’t care if we understood or not).

    Needless to say, one night the dinner ended up being horse steak. I think someone caught the word steak but not the “cheval” that proceeded it.

    Honestly…it was good. Afterwards we found out it was horse steak. The waiters were laughing at us as we left and one of the more brazen members of our little group confronted them to find out what was so funny. They knew dang well that we’d be mortified to find out we ate horse. And we were.

    I bet half the horse meat in France is served to unsuspecting tourists from the USA…it’s their little private joke.

  2. I am such a dork. I read the title of this post and pictured a horse standing (and falling off of) a stack of restaurant menus. Apparently it is beyond the realm of my imagination that someone would eat my precious darlings!

  3. I too was tricked as a young child visiting family in Belgium, into eating horse meat (gurgle gag). It was presented as lunch meat to me and I thought it was roast beef.
    To me, I remember clearly, it tasted liver, or mineraly strong meat. Not good..although very lean, lol! I was told what it was as I was grimacing at my sandwich. Not a funny joke to me. I felt like a traitor.

  4. I lived in Germany for four years. Soon after we got there, I saw a shop with a horse on the sign out front and a truck with a horse painted on the side. I craned my neck to see what it was – tack shop? But, no….it was the Pferde Metzgerei – the horse butcher! The horror!

    Honestly, I tried to be objective and think, if I had grown up with horses as a food animal, how would I feel? I thought that maybe people with no experience around horses might consider them the same way I do cows or pigs. But, later, once I found a stable and met some German riding friends, I discovered that many riders would also eat horse. One of my German girlfriends laughed about how she left the stable in her riding clothes and went down to the fair that was in town. There, she stopped at the horse meat booth and got a sandwich. Everyone got a good laugh at her eating horse in her riding boots. Weird.

    They eat horse all over Europe, but I didn’t see it all that often on the menu. Once, when we were in Switzerland, we went to a traditional fondue restaurant. There were all kinds of choices of meats – beef, pork, chicken, ostrich, emu…and of course horse. The really horrifying part was that the menu listed where the meat originated – the beef was from Argentina, the pork was from Germany and the horse was from…you guessed it! America! When we ordered, we told the waitress we wanted beef and chicken. She kept saying, “horse?” My husband was like “NOOOOO! No horse! Beef. Cow. Mooo-mooo.” I was so leary that she was sneaking us horse that I couldn’t eat any of the meat that night. Yikes!

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