No More Quebec-Bashing
Go here: Ontario hippophagy page 15
This is from a gourmet food magazine published in 2005*. There are so many errors in it about horsemeat that I have to report it here. Like all good gourmets (that’s “gourmet”, not “gourmand”), they suggest the proper wine to go-with. Tragically, a Quebec abattoir provides for this clearly upscale market in Ontario: once again, Quebec is the lapdog of others who furtively buy their product while openly maligning the supplier province. One of the points I made to a fellow horse advocate this week was that you can’t come in Quebec’s back door, take videos of our abattoirs, and then stand aside remotely with your arms folded and watch our reaction. It’s akin to your neighbour telling you that you have a dead rat in your backyard and then, offering no help at all, watching you try to deal with it. I think they got the point: there’s more French in their material than I’ve ever seen before (though no links but they’ll come around). I try not to engage in internecine or intramural squabbling whenever I can, but I am always made aware (especially when dealing outside Quebec) that I am not “white”, and “ethnics with money” are not welcome at the meetings; they’re only welcome at the accountant’s office. For my part, I try to stay focused on the horses, whatever is going on.
We need help here. Distancing yourself from what happens in Quebec just because we speak a different language is not a valid (or useful) option to pursue in the saving of our horses. Anyway, I think this hedonistic nonsense below speaks for itself.
They Eat Horses, Don’t They?
Quit your squirming. The French don’t seem to mind
By Alexa Petrenko
He who cannot eat horsemeat need not do so. Let him eat pork. But he who cannot eat pork, let him eat horsemeat. It’s simply a question of taste. — Nikita Kruschchev
it started with a review I wrote for a local health magazine, about a tasty little neighbourhood bistro on Gerrard called Batifole. The editor got to the part about the tartare, made with horse in accordance with correct French protocol, and instantly spiked the story.
Which is kind of ironic, given that if you must eat red meat, horse is healthier than beef, veal or lamb. It’s higher in pro- tein, lower in fat and cleaner, not being susceptible to plagues like TB or mad cow. It can even be helpful for weight loss: Fashion mogul Karl Lagerfeld, whose book, The Karl Lagerfeld Diet, hits stores this month, claims to have lost 40 kilos on a creative regimen of horsemeat, tomatoes and Diet Coke.
But the editor’s reaction is not unusual, reflecting an attitude inherited from the British, where horses, like dogs, are regarded as companions rather than food.
Much of the rest of the world feels differently. At least 150,000 tons of horsemeat are consumed every year, and Canada is the world’s fourth largest producer, with most being exported. The Swiss love their horsemeat fondue. In Japan, horsemeat sashimi is called basashi, and the heart is considered especially delicate. In Germany they’ve got Pferdewurst (horse sausage). In Canada, the west coast’s Japanese population and the French Quebeckers are enthusiastic consumers of horse. It’s not uncommon to find horse sitting alongside beef in Quebec supermarkets.
In Toronto, most of our horsemeat is devoured by denizens of the zoo, the big cats thriving on a diet of 93 per cent horse and 7 per cent vitamins. But there are a few places where discerning human carnivores can enjoy it too.
At Batifole (744 Gerrard St. E., 416-462-9965), chef-owner Jean-Jacques Texier serves up a lean, delicately spiced tartare that’s never mushy. “Horse is the only really safe way to eat tartare,” he says. “Horses graze only the top part of the grass, they don’t eat dirt or feces, unlike cows, lambs and other herbivores, so they don’t enter into contact with parasites. This is important in uncooked meat, though of course they disappear in cooking.”
16 City Bites
Many Toronto butchers that specialize in exotic meats will custom-order horse on request, but none wanted to be mentioned in this article.
It seems that horsemeat, though per- fectly legal, is still taboo. In cosmopolitan English-speaking Canada — never mind the encouraging words of Kruschev — it’s obviously more than just a question of taste. A supermarket in Calgary was charged in 2000 with selling horsemeat labeled as beef. The owners pleaded ignorance. Apparently, their customers were plenty pleased with their meat orders before routine testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency revealed the truth.
He’s considered taking horse off his menu, but customers keep returning for their tartare fix. Texier is an animal lover — he dreams of retiring to a horse farm — who refuses to serve chicken because of the abusive conditions in which they are raised. “Horses are at least raised in the best of conditions, and are probably the happiest animals,” he says.
At La Palette in Kensington Market (256 Augusta Ave., 416-929-4900), Mark Harrington has been serving horse for three and a half years. His horse tenderloin in a rosemary veal jus is, Harrington says, “so tender, you can cut it with a butter knife.” (The entrée also comes in a half portion paired with a duck leg, whimsically named Quack and Track.) Harrington says response to the cheval on his menu has been “90 per cent great, and it just flies out.” One long-time vegetarian chose La Palette’s horse as “his meat of re-entry.”
When asked what goes with horse, Texier suggested pinot noir or a cabernet franc from the Loire, something not too heavy and slightly chilled to cellar temperature. Harrington prefers a full-bodied red with some sweet fruit, perhaps a Petit Verdot from Ballast Stone Estate.
These chefs both get their cheval from Quebec’s La Ferme, purveyors to restaurants only. But there’s at least one horsemeat butcher shop in Toronto serving the public: Cavallino Carne Equina & Groceries (2995 Islington at Steeles, 416-749-1633). When asked about cuts and prices over the phone, the owner refused to provide details, but extended an invitation to his shop, saying, “anything you need, we’ve got.”
*Note that this was published before the US banned horse slaughter on its own soil…thus very revealing about Canadians’ attitudes about horsemeat long before this became a North American problem.