Meditations

Hungry Enough to Eat a Horse


New-York cut striploin horse steaks on the grill.

New-York cut striploin horse steaks on the grill. Photo: Rachael Ashe

That’s how the saying goes: ‘Hungry enough to eat a horse.’

But have you eaten a horse? Or even just some horse?

I have. Along with 9 friends last weekend we ate horse steaks grilled and seasoned with salt and herbs.

We ate horse steaks between course of dungeonness crab, German potato salad, watermelon-feta salad and finished with a cast-iron tarte tatin.

Dungeoness crab and red rock crab claws.

Dungeoness crab and red rock crab claws. Photo: Rachael Ashe

But how was the horse?

Good. Variable. Okay.

Some pieces were great — tender and savoury and full of flavour and juice. Some were just okay.

Horse meat turns out to be very lean, with a similar texture and grain to beef, but without the marbling. I imagine it would challenge most folks to tell the different between well-cooked horse and grass-fed beef. It tastes very mild to me, someone used to eating beef.

Watermelon and feta cheese salad with mint garnish.

Watermelon and feta cheese salad with mint garnish. Photo: Rachael Ashe

But we don’t like to eat horse, do we? It feels taboo. Not right.

We grilled the horse steaks on the common deck of a Yaletown condo unit, beside an glassed-in pool / hot tub / gym facility where towards the end of our meal 2 men and 2 girls engaged in a transparent tease-chase game, with one of the girls playing along in her tank top and thong. Through the glass her thonged behind played peek-a-boo as she toe ran to the water to protect her modesty.

We had a code word for our horse in case anyone around us felt sensitive. We didn’t have to use it.

When I think of horses I think of big brown questioning eyes. Beautiful muscles under sleek coats. Grace and big, quiet mystery. It’s hard to think of them as food.

And I felt uneasy eating horse. Not because I’ve ever had any great relations to horses. I have no boyhood story of riding a horse or feeding them apples over the half gate in a musty, warm barn.

But I felt uneasy.

German-style potato salad.

German-style potato salad. Photo: Rachael Ashe

I tried to read a little more about how we rationalize our ideas of what is ethical to eat. I read David Foster Wallace’s essay from Gourmet magazine, Consider the Lobster. But it didn’t really help. I recommend it but I’m left with more questions than answers.

Is it cruel to eat meat? Yes.

Does that make those of us who eat meat cruel? Yes.

Can we try to eat meat in as humane a way possible? Yes.

Are we animals whose nature is to be omnivores, inclusive of meat? Yes.

And that’s about as far as I’ve gotten on the topic.

Because there’s not much else I can consider, honestly, other than to reconcile that my choice to eat meat means that animals die. That’s it. There’s no substitute logic.

It’s a complicated business, being human.

How do you reconcile your choice to eat or not eat meat?

Tarte tatin made in a cast-iron pan.

Tarte tatin made in a cast-iron pan. Photo: Rachael Ashe

All photos courtesy of Rachael Ashe — Goddess Spiral on Flickr.

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