Report from France: the horse meat is good
Aug 20, 2008
By Steve Cornett
The only horse meat we’ve found in Paris was good. Succulent, in fact.
I promised to check out the horse meat, you may recall, because of all the controversy surrounding the horse slaughter business in the U.S., where we have congress persons convinced it is their place to tell the French what is uncivilized.
Fortunately, we had a trip to Europe planned, and it seemed to make sense that I would look into the culinary habits of this backwards country while here.
Let me tell you something: Horsemeat is among the least disgusting things they eat on this side of the Atlantic. Go to England and try some blood sausage. Come to Paris and try the “preserved chicken.” These people pickle poultry and eat it. No wonder they're so cranky.
We’ve been here four days now. We’ve eaten in a different restaurant every meal. The only horse meat I’ve seen offered was in one hamburger, and it mentioned the word “cheval” only in the small print.
I was going to order it to report for you, first person, but it said right there on the menu that it was succulent, and I decided to take their word for it. I don’t think they would say that if it weren’t true.
I’ve checked out several grocery stores, as well. I find no fresh horse, and darned little fresh beef, for that matter.
But when you order a steak over here, you can understand why somebody might resort to eating horse. They don’t have a cattle feeding industry, you know, and their cows are mostly dual-use things. The meat is tough to the point of stringy. I have not seen nor tasted a fleck of marbling in 10 days.
They know how to cook in France, you know. Their thin little bits of meat are tasty, but even a great chef can only do so much in a country where everything chews like flank steak.
I guess these guys like the meat they have. But don't you suppose that one reason the per capita beef consumption in the European Union is less than half that of the U.S. is the fact that their beef isn’t very good.
They’d rather eat pork and poultry—and they eat more of each than we do, along with ducks and geese and rabbits. It makes you wonder what will happen as our access to this market improves. As one of the people we met here says, "the native palate vareees" but I can't imagine a palate that appreciates these wonderful pastries wouldn't adjust quickly to American beef.
Moreover, it makes me wonder how dangerous it is for us to be talking about producing more grassfed beef in the U.S.
The flavor and succulence of U.S. beef strikes me as a good selling point, especially after a few days without it.