There are certain times during expatriation when it is favourable to be away from home, reading that there are beef products being sold for consumption in Ireland which contain a large percentage of horsemeat is one of them. My initial reaction was shock, my second reaction was horror when I recalled all the times I ate my comfort fodder of frozen lasagna on the sofa, enjoying mouthful after mouthful of what could be my childhood pony, Sprinkle. Don’t get me wrong, I treat all horses the same but it would certainly deepen that hurt to think that all the while I was possibly eating my dappled grey tenth birthday present, smothered in tomato sauce resting between sheets of pasta that were dripping in white sauce.
Always happy to jump on the back of any old bandwagon, I find myself tutting profusely at the faux pas despite priding myself on being adventurous in the kitchen. Snail, snake and octopus all feature on my “have eaten” list, horse, dog and cat feature on my “will never eat” list.
As the details of the scandal unfold, it’s impossible not to feel cheated. Being any marketeers dream, I placed my trust solely on packaging and brand recognition. If the packaging said 100% Beef, I was all too happy to pay that little extra and trust implicitly that it is so. If I knew the brand I’d toss the packet of value burgers into the shopping basket faster than Red Rum on the racecourse. How was I to know I was being tricked, sold for a pup, or a pony in this case.
Through superficial and flimsy research recently carried out by myself on the internet, it seems that horse is somewhat of a delicacy in France and Japan. The consumption is not harmful to humans and it tastes similar to beef. So, what’s the beef, why does eating horse such a no-no for me, why the long face? As part of ongoing self-discovery I asked myself the hard question? Why not horse?
I was surprised to find that the answer was indeed all down to personality. I discovered that I have an issue with eating anything that has a personality, or rather, a good personality. (This rule is limited to animals only, as no matter how poor a human personality was, I would not eat a man, despite there being an abundance). I was also surprised to learn that I categorized personalities on loyalty and so regarding a horse as a loyal and true companion of man, I would prefer not to eat horsemeat. Same for Rover, man’s best friend and same for cats, while I’m aware that cats are often thought to be disloyal, they do have certain homing habits, which I choose to recognise as a form of loyalty.
All was in order, I had rationalized my decision to refrain from the equine family until an British MEP suggested that perhaps horsemeat wasn’t the only component in the beef lasagna, it may also contain traces of Donkey! “Traces of Donkey” is not a caption I ever thought I’d read in relation to my evening meal, nor is it a statement I ever thought I would have to consider. I’d seen, “May contain nuts”, but ‘Traces of Donkey” surely someone would notice a donkey being flung into the meat cocktail in whatever dodgy abattoir all these products originated. Nevertheless, here I was, asking myself how did I feel about eating a donkey. And yes, donkey was on the “will never eat” list. Or should I say, the “would never knowingly eat” list.
I find that I have a preference not to have donkey on my plate. While, he hasn’t a riveting personality, he can often have a vicious temperament and be generally cranky, not the type I usually go for. I surprise myself by being more offended by donkey in the lasagna than horse, aahh the human psyche, a labyrinth of enigma. Although I recognise the donkey as being a member of the equine family, I’m sorry to say that I don’t offer him the same regard as I do for a horse. But I look on the bright side and think at least it wasn’t an ass. That would really be tearing up the rulebook.
Safest option going forward is the vegetarian, whatever chance there is of disguising a horse as the cow, there is no hope of disguising an donkey as an aubergine.