Horse meat on Canadian cooking show raises eyebrows

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Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture
Horse meat on Canadian cooking show raises eyebrows

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Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm watching Top Chef Canada and channel surfing - and I see on the news that folks are upset with the use of 'horse meat' - the chef used it to make a tartare with a raw egg on top, and seriously under-spiced. She didn't win today's event.

And the Americans are watching:  Horse Meat Scandal on Top Chef Canada

excerpt:

Despite the fact that horse meat is not widely consumed in Canada, over 90,000 horses a year are slaughtered for food there. Its high-protein, low-fat meat is still consumed in many parts of the world, including Italy, Japan and Brazil. The taboo of eating horse meat persists in most of North America, however, and the Canadian horse meat industry remains controversial. If horse meat isn't your thing, perhaps you would like camel (Egypt), whales (Norway) or monkeys (sub-Saharan Africa).

Doug

So? Are horses somehow more special than cows? Why not complain about the seal flippers the chef from Newfoundland used on an episode?

Timebandit

Amazing how culture holds sway like this.  I have never had occasion to eat horse, but I don't suppose I'd have much more difficulty than trying goat (which is amazing in a Caribbean curry).  But I couldn't go as far as eating dog in Asia, although some of my companions did. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

From CBC: Furor over horse meat on Top Chef Canada

excerpt:

 Top Chef Canada is airing an episode Monday night called "The French Feast," which will require chefs* to create a dish from scratch using horse meat. Horse meat has been on menus for a long time in Europe and is available on supermarket shelves in Quebec.

But in the rest of North America, it's not considered a palatable staple. Three Facebook groups have popped up encouraging viewers to boycott Top Chef Canada.

In a statement posted on the show's Facebook page, Food Network Canada said that "while we understand that this content may not appeal to all viewers, [our network] aims to engage a wide audience, embracing different food cultures in our programming."

 *actually, only one chef used horse meat. The others used rabbit, oysters, frog's legs, foie gras, and some other ingredients.

ETA: just a matter of time before PETA raises a howl.

al-Qa'bong

[quote]

ETA: just a matter of time before PETA raises a howl.[/quote]

 

You actually edited your post to add that?

 

I doubt if PETA would have more of a problem with eating horses than they'd have with eating bunnies or frogs' legs. What the hell do they do with the rest of the frogs anyway? Do the former lilypad hoppers just swim around ponds with their front legs, hoping that more caring amphibians hand them some spare flies?

 

And what about foie gras? It's made from the livers of geese for whom mealtimes are essentially torture sessions.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Had to mention PETA here somehow! Laughing

al-Qa'bong

Why?

Bubbles

My mother, who came from Holland, used to complain that horse meat was so hard to get hold off here in this area. She especialy liked smoked horse meat on a sandwhich. So we had it only a couple of times a year at best. Tasts just fine. I must say that I do not understand the aversion most seem to have towards it. It has rubbed off on my kids too, they would not eat it if they knew that it was horse meat. But if you tell them it is sliced smoked beef it is just fine. A mind issue.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

[quote=al-Qa'bong]

Why?

[/quote]

Well, PETA goes after everything else, so why not raise a fuss over horse meat too? I'm just saying we can expect attack ads or increased fund raising from them as a result of this matter. This is about playing to their base and making money from it.

Bubbles

Mind you, as a farmer, I would not likey raise horses just for the meat. I have been told that their feed conversion is not all that good. But I can see that as a result of the popularity of horses, it might be a good by product.

Lachine Scot

Sheesh, what's the difference between one meat and another..

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Taste?

Lachine Scot

Touché!

al-Qa'bong

[quote]

Well, PETA goes after everything else...[/quote]

 

Everything else? Yeah, that's so huge and vague an indictment it must be true, so your premise logically is correct.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

You can see I am not inclined to hyperbole, right? Wink

6079_Smith_W

There was something on this this morning on Q.

The only reasonable argument I heard against horse slaughter was an allegation that some of the meat is from racing animals and others which have been pumped with hormones - in short, that it is unfit and dangerous to eat. 

As for the other accusations of cruelty in slaughtering well, how is that problem, or the solution any different than for any other animal. 

My inclination is that the taboo comes down to the pet thing. I have eaten horse twice - once overseas, and once in Manitoba, and I thought it was just fine. Didn't get chased by a vengeful pooka in my dreams or anything

For those who are partial to meat, I recommend Felicity Dunlop's great book on Szechan cuisine - "Land of Plenty" for a bit of a crash course in the range of what is considered acceptable meat consumption. There is a chapter devoted specifically to the topic.

Timebandit

I'd heard that horses are often slaughtered because PMU operations breed to many of them.  I wonder if they wind up as food for human consumption.

I'll have to look up that book, 6079.  I know it was absolutely the pet thing when I turned down a dish of dog.  I just kept picturing Lu and Kali and couldn't do it.  But I also didn't go for the scorpions or silk worms.  Purely cultural bias - the dishes smelled delicious.

6079_Smith_W

Actually if I had a chance to try dog I would, since i have heard very good things about it - though I am sure it all depends on the dog. 

Apparently when the Lewis and Clark expedition came out of the Bitterroot Mountains half-dead the people they encountered took them in and nursed them back to health with lots of salmon. The Americans got so tired of it eventually they started trading anything they could for dog so they could get some red meat. 

I am not a big fan of kidney, and I have even managed to eat durian. but the only food I have ever declined to try is smoked udder.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

At a Fish and Game Club dinner, I unwittingly ate a small dish of muskrat once - it was billed as 'marsh rabbit' - and I got sick afterwards - whoever cooked it forgot to take out the scent glands.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Boom Boom: is that mention of being able to get horse meat on supermarket shelves a quote? I remember buying it in Montreal, but had to go to a speciality butcher shop way east on Mont Royal. Don't remember ever seeing it on the shelves in Steinberg's or Provigo.

Timebandit

[quote=6079_Smith_W]

Actually if I had a chance to try dog I would, since i have heard very good things about it - though I am sure it all depends on the dog. 

Apparently when the Lewis and Clark expedition came out of the Bitterroot Mountains half-dead the people they encountered took them in and nursed them back to health with lots of salmon. The Americans got so tired of it eventually they started trading anything they could for dog so they could get some red meat. 

I am not a big fan of kidney, and I have even managed to eat durian. but the only food I have ever declined to try is smoked udder.

[/quote]

Oh, there's nothing better than a "snake and kitty"pie (that would be steak and kidney to the non-Cockney) that's done properly!  And a lot of the ones you'll encounter aren't done quite right.  I've some organic beef kidney in the deep freeze, actually.  Mmmmm. 

ETA:  What I can't find at a reasonable price is rabbit.  My favourite butcher shop carries it, but very expensive.  And I know the wretched things aren't that expensive to raise.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

[quote=bagkitty]

Boom Boom: is that mention of being able to get horse meat on supermarket shelves a quote? I remember buying it in Montreal, but had to go to a speciality butcher shop way east on Mont Royal. Don't remember ever seeing it on the shelves in Steinberg's or Provigo.

[/quote]

Yes, it's a quote from the CBC article. I'm in my 60s, and I've never seen horse meat available anywhere. Neigh!

Farmpunk

Some butchers in my area still stock smoked horse meat for Hungarian\central Euro customers.  I've never tried it.

I know, from a reliable horse source, that there's a farmer local to me who raises Cyldesdales for the meat market.... in China.  He ships them live.  

People who are into horses, as pets\companions, tend to be extremely passionate about their animals.  To them, a horse is not just another animal.  

6079_Smith_W

[quote=Timebandit]

Actually if I had a chance to try dog I would, since i

ETA:  What I can't find at a reasonable price is rabbit.  My favourite butcher shop carries it, but very expensive.  And I know the wretched things aren't that expensive to raise.

[/quote]

Well there's your answer right there. I couldn't do it because the kids wouldn't let me get away with it. Speaking of which, a friend of mine was traumatized as a kid because her dad used to keep his fish in the bathtub to get the muddy taste out of them. Seeing her new pet on the supper table every Friday was too much for her.

And real snake (rattlesnake) is actually quite good. Not like some reptiles like alligator, which frankly, reminded me of the pissy taste of kidney, only sweeter.

And speaking of muskrats, rabbits and other rodents, someone brought a beaver dressed and roasted like a chicken to a treeplanting meeting of ours some years ago. It was wonderful.

iceman

My ex works for renewable Resourses and we attended one of their Christmas parties where variety of interesting food was served. I had smoked lynx, wolf sausage and a porky stew. The hardest to eat was the lynx as several cats lived with us at the time. Porky is one of the hardest game meats to prepare because if not done properly, it tastes like insect repellant!

NDPP

Perhaps if Canadians were as outraged by the slaughter of Afghans or Libyans as they are of horses, we might have an effective anti-war movement.

Timebandit

I don't think anyone was disparaging preferences - just talking about how it's interesting how our cultural views and relationships to certain animals make them food or not-food. 

I had winters growing up where we ate elk or moose instead of beef.  Deer, too, and game birds.  Some say they're a bit of an acquired taste, but I figure everything is.  ;)

Slumberjack

I don't really have a horse in any discussion about regional or international culinary tastes, except to say that we're quite often carried away with our North American and European colonial centric view of what constitutes a decent eating experience.  A few weeks ago on vacation I enjoyed the most delicious moose sausages I've had in awhile.  All of the widely accepted uses of beef for example, within the various dishes served up and discussed as part of our accepted conversations, such as steak tar tar, huge dripping BBQ blackened rare slabs of it, liver, kidney pie, etc...might be just as unappealing in another situation where it may potentially be acceptable to as many or possibly more people engaged in a conversation involving poodles and noodles, german sheppard pie, or schnauzer schnitzel.  Eating meat of any kind leaves little room to disparage regional preferences here and there.

KeyStone

Horses live better lives than most meat animals, simply because they are raised for purposes other than meat, and so are allowed to roam free most of their lives.

The real issue should be pork, as pigs are kept in absolutely abominable conditions.

Not that many of you care, with the opinions expressed in this thread.

6079_Smith_W

@SJ

Yeah, I think I missed the disparaging comment, whatever it was. The smoked udder I turned down was about as eurocentric as it gets - in Basel, Switzerland. Or perhaps I can offer some lutefisk, or a bit of haggis with extra lung? Blood pudding. or brain sausage?

But I do think the people who would be most disgusted at our north american diet are the North Americans themselves if they had a good whiff of where hot dogs come from, or realized that those plastic wrapped chickens went through a bath of shit soup before they wound up on their styrofoam trays.

And Timebandit, I think my kitchen would feel empty if I didn;t have at least a bit of moose or deer in the freezer. As a matter of fact, I just got a sour cabbage today, and I think moose holopci is on the menu.

 

6079_Smith_W

[quote=KeyStone]

Horses live better lives than most meat animals, simply because they are raised for purposes other than meat, and so are allowed to roam free most of their lives.

The real issue should be pork, as pigs are kept in absolutely abominable conditions.

Not that many of you care, with the opinions expressed in this thread.

[/quote]

Nah. you;re right. You care way more about it than me.

Actually I care most about the long term effect of antibiotics, and the waste from those factories on us and the water table. 

And I don't think factory hog farming would be nearly the issue it is if it werent for the fact that many of them butt right up against suburban sprawl. People may like their pork sausages, but they sure don't like to smell where they come from.

Do I care about pigs? Well yeah, as I said upthread already -  but clearly not as much as you do.

 

Slumberjack

[quote=6079_Smith_W] Yeah, I think I missed the disparaging comment, whatever it was. [/quote]

I think you'd have to look at the links provided, and why such a story is newsworthy.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I've voiced my opnion on babble about the horrific treatment animals bred for slaughter receive. Years ago when I was still taking my holidays in the American south, I drove through West Virginia and saw a chicken operation - 400,000 chickens under one roof, if you can believe that. The smell was absolutely terrible - one can only imagine how it was for the chickens inside that place. Frown

Snert Snert's picture

[i]Cheval[/i] is delicious.  A mouthful of horse is like two mouthfuls of beef.

 

But I'm sure both horse and beef lack the, well, magic of [url=http://www.thinkgeek.com/caffeine/wacky-edibles/e5a7/]Unicorn[/url]

DaveW

the very first time i landed in France, very first meal, friends served me a plate of pasta and some delicious red meat... turned out to be horse

have almost never, maybe never, eaten it since then -- but the truth is, it was delicious, and I have eaten hundreds of beef dishes since then

... highly selective/culturally loaded revulsion? ... yes.

Stockholm

Camptown race track two miles long - doo-dah, doo-dah...Camptown race track two miles long - oh doo-dah-day!!

iceman

6079 wrote
"Or perhaps I can offer some lutefisk, or a bit of haggis with extra lung? Blood pudding. or brain sausage?"
A good Hagis is, well, filling. I skip the Scotch though. I'm glad someone invented beer, it's a much better use
for barley.
One of the local delicacys here is moose nose, eaten soon after the animal is killed.
Unfortunately our like or dislike for a particular food is more determined by our culture than our actual physical
needs.
Does our body really care whether the chicken protein for dinner was free range or "farmed'?
If an animal is killed on a hunt, by a free range farmer or in a factory is there any less terror or suffering for
the animal when it dies?
From experience, no matter how skilled the butcher, bad word here but, there is always a percentage of
animals that don't die quickly.
Good butchers handle the situation , bad ones panic and it can be horrifing.

"... highly selective/culturally loaded revulsion? ... yes."

Totally.

If you were starving, would you eat another human being? If you were dead, would you want another person

to consume you to suvive?

Food for thought!

6079_Smith_W

@ iceman

I realize there is a question of good butchers and bad butchers, but I think systems based on cruelty to animals to maximize profit  - like some factory farming - are worth being concerned about. It is a problem not just because of the treatment of animals, but also because of the damage it does to the environment, and to more sustainable agriculture. 

One might not be able to tell the difference in the meat, but the ethical concerns remain, and there may be physical differences - chemical and infectious - which one cannot see (although I can certainly smell the difference, and see the difference between a chicken carcass which is free range, and one which has spent its life in cramped quarters). 

I think taking an animal in the wild does generally cause less suffering than going through a slaughterhouse, though not all hunting is respectful either.

That said, I do take your point that much of the reaction to this is based on culture, and being disconnected from where our food comes from. 

And I agree with you about moose nose. It was one of the richest and most memorable bowls of soup I have ever had.

abnormal

In my student days there were a couple of stores in town that sold horsemeat.  I used to eat steak for less than my roommates were paying for hamburger.

I always found horsemeat hamburger to be kind of bland - think it was the lack of fat content.  I used to buy about five pounds of horsemeat hamburger and mix about a pound of the cheapest ground beef I could find into it.  At that point I couldn't really tell the difference.

As an aside, the horsemeat stores sold nothing else - it's too easy to sell horsemeat as beef [in fact, I'm aware of at least one national hamburger chain that got busted way back when for mixing horsemeat into their patties because it was seriously cheap].

 

angrymonkey

Yeah sorry. Not into doling out panic, pain and suffering just to tempt my tastebuds with exotic new experiences. 

6079_Smith_W

[quote=angrymonkey]

Yeah sorry. Not into doling out panic, pain and suffering just to tempt my tastebuds with exotic new experiences. 

[/quote]

It's not all quite so decadent. Meat is one of the things my body likes to make it run properly.

Not everyone feels that way? That's fine.

 

Papal Bull

Sucks to all those that demean another's dietary choices from a position of judgement. Sucks to them and their high horse.

 

When I was a kiddo a friend and I had the opportunity to eat some water snake - it was greasy. Crayfish cook-offs were a fun distraction for a few summers. Mind you, I'll save my tales of cannibalism in the quirkiest avantgard gatropubs for another thread.

abnormal

[quote=angrymonkey]

Yeah sorry. Not into doling out panic, pain and suffering just to tempt my tastebuds with exotic new experiences. 

[/quote]

Nothing particularly exotic about horsemeat.  It's widely eaten in Europe [if memory serves correctly the proprietors of the store I refered to earlier were Dutch].

In that sense it's no different from beef or pork.

al-Qa'bong

I checked PETA's site; there's no sign of them galloping to the rescue yet.

This guy, oddly enough, hasn't seemed to notice either.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

2008:  CBC to air cruelties in Canadian horse slaughter plants tonight

excerpt:

Shot at a horse slaughter plant in Canada, the film is an in-depth and critical look at the horse slaughter industry in Canada, and exposes the shocking cruelties that take place.

The scenes clearly show that the slaughter of horses is not humane euthanasia and must be stopped. Footage taken inside the plant, including of the stunning/killing process will be made available to the public via a press conference early next week.

 

Watchdog group urges Top Chef Canada to warn viewers about dangers of horse meat (May 11, 2011)

excerpt:

Another objection to horse meat are the methods used for the production of it — horse slaughter — and the numerous, well-documented cruelties inherent to it. “The cultural and moral aspects of horse slaughter are constantly debated between those for and against it.

What cannot be argued, however, is that horses are routinely given drugs throughout their lives that leave toxic residues, potentially carcinogenic to humans, in their meat”, adds Grant. “There is a clear food safety issue here.”

iceman

What is really being debated here is whether a person's moral view point can tell someone

 else what they can or cannot eat, how they raise it, how they prepare it and how they eat it.

Boom Boom wrote

"What cannot be argued, however, is that horses are routinely given drugs throughout their

lives that leave toxic residues, potentially carcinogenic to humans, in their meat", adds Grant.

"There is a clear food safety issue here."

This is true about almost everything in our food chain, even organically grown food has traces of

carcinogens in them. In the north the levels of mercury in wild game is rising.

The only way to insure that you don't ingets these is to stop eating.

Not a really viable option.

6079_Smith_W

@ Boomboom

Again.... is the problem that there are animal cruelty and health and safety issues that can be dealt with (like most other issues)?

... or are people squeamish about seeing Flicka on their plate with a nice mushroom sauce and potatoes on the side and some red wine, and wanting to come up with irrelevant excuses to promote that view?

The fact that some are calling for abolition rather than reform makes me suspicious.

al-Qa'bong

Cruelty toward slaughtered horses bad; cruelty toward slaughtered pigs, chickens, calves, steers, etc. not so bad.

Some meat is more equal than others.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture
6079_Smith_W

And the fact is, horses don't always get the best treatment when they are being used for recreation and entertainment. Perhaps the people concerned about using them for food are also outraged by the treatment and rate of injury of horses at stampedes and races. 

But I have heard - most recently last summer around the Calgary Stampede - and respect the goals of that lobby. THis seems to be something different and unrelated. 

Using horses for our entertainment isn't an innocent pleasure either, and can often lead to them dying in a great deal more pain than slaughterhouses mete out.

And really, there are virtually no wild horses. THey are all, like dogs, corn and certain other domesticated species, bound up in human society and subject to how we treat them

And when they are done with them, guess where they go - the knackers. THe only difference is that they wind up in a glue bottle and a dog food can rather than on the plate.

...oh, and in a bag of blood and bone meal. Surprise! You get to eat the horse anyway, only it has been recycled as a cabbage!

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