I’ve been thinking about the role of food in our life story because I’m reading Patricia Sands’ luminous new release, Drawing Lessons, in which food, as well as setting, actually plays a major role. Please come back for my review tomorrow! Meanwhile—you might not want to read on if you’re just sitting down to eat. Just saying…
But…is it food?
My dog has a policy of eating anything that might possibly be food, might have once been in packaging with pictures of food, or on the off-chance that she’ll miss some food related opportunity.
My children pretty much only ate beige foods (french fries, cheerios, peanutbutter) until they were adults.
I don’t eat some foods for religious reasons. Some I don’t eat because I made that mistake once (okra!) and I’m not that stupid. But there are still some I won’t eat because… well, ick. (That category generally includes things with more than four legs, with no legs at all, and things I’ve kept as pets.)
When it comes to horses, though, some people still have a different approach. Just last month there was a sting operation in Spain in which over 65 people were arrested in a horsemeat racket bust. Their crime, though wasn’t that they were selling horsemeat, but that the meat sold was “unfit for human consumption”.
Apparently, horsemeat itself is still a go. In fact, you can go to the Dutch restaurant Keuken van het Ongewenst Dier (The Kitchen of Unwanted Animals) and enjoy their “My Little Pony Burger”. In addition to serving as blog fodder, they see their mission as the ultimate in recycling. I could not make this stuff up.
In other horsemeat related news–
Some have wondered why people here in England are so upset about the possibility that their food contains horsemeat. The English have no problem eating cow, chicken, lamb – usually with some form of pig in/on each of them. One theory is that horses, like dogs, are companion animals and you wouldn’t eat your Mr. Snookums. Another is that the horse has a long history as a transportation provider, and you wouldn’t eat your Prius.
But let’s face it – the nation which is home to the ever-popular chip butty (basically, a supersized bunfull of fries), spotted dick (not what it sounds like), blood pudding (just what it sounds like), and haggis (trust me, you don’t want to know), is not squeamish.
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle.
I think the actual truth is that they’re saving the horses for an emergency. I realized this when we toured Yorkshire’s Bolton Castle. The current owners of Bolton Castle trace their family back to Sir Richard Scropes, builder of the original castle in 1378. Because Reality TV hadn’t been invented yet, medieval English entertainment consisted of surviving the Black Death and choosing which political team to support. Stakes were high.
[NOTE: As perspective, if the US followed the medieval leader-selection trope, Donald Trump would become president by murdering his close relative, Barak Obama. He would then imprison the leaders of the Democratic Party in the Washington Monument, behead the CEOs of the New York Times and Washington Post, accuse the Chairman of the Federal Reserve of being a witch, and either burn the houses of every Democrat in congress, or arrange marriages between their minor children and highly-placed members of his party.]
Overall, Sir Scropes’ descendants have been pretty good at picking the winning team, if you don’t count the times a rejected king burned down the castle. Or all the beheadings. But a true low point came during the Civil War in 1644 when the young owner of the castle signed with Team King. The Parliamentarians promptly laid siege to the castle for the next six months. How did Bolton resist for so long? You guessed it. When starvation loomed, they ate every horse in the place.