By Richard Vines
LONDON — The discovery of horse meat in British packaged meals raises legal, ethical and health concerns.
How about the question of flavor?
I asked London-based chefs about their experiences of eating horse meat, which were far removed from the current scandal of horse flesh being illicitly substituted for beef. (That meat is being tested for contamination.)
In any event, there are animal-welfare objections to the transportation and slaughter of horses, which are sometimes hacked to death. Compassion in World Farming urges people to sign a petition to end live exports to continental Europe.
Here's what the chefs had to say:
Eric Chavot of Brasserie Chavot, opening in March: "I ate it mainly during the '60s and '70s (in France) when I was growing up. It's very high in protein, so it's good for children. We always had 'steak de cheval' every Thursday. But I was eating it one evening and my brother made the sound of a horse — neigh — and that put me off. I didn't really like it after that. Do I think the British would choose to eat it if properly presented? No I don't. Let me put it this way: Would you?"
Anthony Demetre, Wild Honey: "I can understand people being unhappy about being misled, but I can't understand the furor about horse meat itself. Having a French wife, especially a Parisian, one gets accustomed to eating it. I remember going to my wife's grandmother for a Sunday roast: It was the best bit of meat I had tasted for a long time. They didn't tell me it was horse because they thought for an Englishman it would be taboo. It's not too dissimilar to beef and it's very lean. If there weren't such a taboo, I wouldn't hesitate to serve it."