So now frozen lasagne as well as burgers are found to contain considerable amounts of antiquated and outlawed Romanian modes of transport. I ate horsemeat years ago in France, even though I’d worked with horses most of my young life and developed sentimental attachments with some. It was around that time, (in the 70s) with bravado, I also ate snails, frogs-legs, lambs’ testicles, squid – you name it. Just showing off really. But I’ve never been squeamish about food, having been introduced to a variety as a child. My stepmother loved to be seen at the village deli back in the 60s. My favourite was dried bananas. They came in paper packs printed with a Caribbean man in exotic setting, and were wrinkled black sticks, so sweet and chewy. I wish I could find them in the supermarkets now.
I’ve been struck by the number of people who comment in response to the horsemeat scandal, that they have no problem with eating horse, completely missing the point that they are being conned. Effectively, meat usually intended for dog food has ended up on their plate labelled as something else. It’s nothing to do with whether it’s morally okay to eat horse, or whether it tastes nice, or is nutritious – it’s to do with fraud and deception.
What all this has led me to think most, though, is the historic and social criteria we use to select which meat is okay and which is not okay. Why is it that we have a list of animals that we have no qualms in consuming, and another that go into the inedible category? If it’s perfectly fine to eat horse (which is a genetically selectively modified domestic animal, as are dogs or cats – nothing like their wild equivalents) why is it not okay to eat Fido or Kitty? A facebook acquaintance who shoots wild animals and claims to eat roadkill states that cat would be too greasy, and (he owns one) dogs were specifically bred to be our pals, so we can’t eat them. My own suspicion is, it’s to do with which animal is herbivore or not. As far as I know, I’ve not eaten dog or cat, but who knows what 1970s Chinese and Indian restaurants were serving in spicy sauce?
Really, the more I think about this, the more I ought to become a vegetarian (which might put me first in line if cannibalism takes off), but I shan’t, and in fact, this has made me hungry. I’m off for a bacon butty!