The great horsemeat debate …

This week Tesco have purchased the “Giraffe” chain of restaurants and the obvious jokes about giraffe meat are surfacing along with a few that are still doing the rounds about the horse masquerading as beef scandal.  This has spurred to me to type a few thoughts on this matter.

Since I spawned a mad sausage fiend it will come as no surprise that this is a carnivorous household.  We don’t use swear words like vegetarian and just the other day I laughed heartily at a friends facebook status relating to someone offering to pick up some “vegan delights” for dinner.   “Vegan” and “delights” are two words that would never be in one sentence for me.   And speaking of swear words, even “well cooked”  is classed as swearing in this house.  The little one will ask “is there plenty of blood in it” if I have cooked beef or steak – so she either has a refined palette or is actually a small vampire.  I’m going for the former as she is rarely sparkly skinned unless she’s been spilling fairy glitter about the place.

My Grandfather was a Butcher (in a Butcher’s shop as opposed to a Sweeney Todd type way) so I grew up eating liver, kidney, hearts … any organ basically.  In fact my Mum often says that the only reason my Dad asked her out on a second date was because at the end of the first one my Grandad made him the biggest bacon sandwich he’d ever set eyes on.   My Dad also says that he’d hate to be in a crash and stranded on an island as he is pretty sure that my mother would eat him !

So I have no qualms about eating animals of any description.  This is why I don’t really understand about people’s outrage over the discovery that burgers and other processed meals are packed full of horsemeat.  I’m with the French on this one, they are no doubt shrugging in a gallic fashion and wondering what the fuss is about.   Aside from the small matter of fraudulent food labelling, it seems to me if you are happy to chomp down on a bit cow then what is wrong with a bit of horse ?

Between doing a bit of traveling over the years and living in Kenya for 5 years I’ve eaten my fair share of animals .. giraffe, zebra, crocodile, kangaroo, horse, impala, ostrich etc.. so I really don’t mind – it all tastes quite similar.  In Nairobi there is a Restaurant called “Carnivore” where the staff walk around with various large cooked animals on big skewers, carving bits off to serve you.  All this is done with a large smile and happy questions such as “would you like the Buffalo Madam – he is tasty” and  “A small piece of a gazelle for you?” .  There is a vegetarian option – or there was a few years back – a jacket potato :)  Although at times I was assured that chicken is a vegetable .. its not a cow or a goat (meat) so therefore it must be a vegetable.

But there are a few things I’ve not been quite so keen to eat including a) Scorpions – they simply weren’t disguised enough and just looked like scorpions  b) Guinea Pig – has to be done when in Peru – but again, it’s just too obviously a child’s pet laid out on a plate with the little feet left on – think less haute cuisine and more road kill !  [Although I love that in a church in Cusco there is a famous painting of The Last Supper that has Jesus sitting down to a feast of Guinea Pig !] c) Sparrows d) Chicken Fetuses e) Dog.

Dog gets served up quite often in Asia and some restaurants even have signs outside with pictures of cute pooches on them.   This is just a little bit far even for me ….

So my final thoughts on the matter are really that if you are going to buy processed meals for £1 or a pack of burgers for 60p you are going to be pretty lucky if you find any meat in there at all – cow or horse !

But so long as it doesn’t reach the stage where a hot dog really is a hot dog then I will happily continue to ensure my dinner is made up of things that used to have parents and faces.

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