So, you heard about those delicious Swedish meatballs that are made from horsemeat. And, if you’re American, you likely recoiled in horror, spat out a few choice words and vowed to never eat those (delicious) meatballs ever again.
I mean, honestly, who eats horse?
Err… lots of people, apparently.
In Europe, Asia and South America, horsemeat is not the taboo food that is here in the States. It’s downright commonplace for people to eat horseflesh. In fact, if you’ve traveled to those continents, it’s very possible that you have in fact sampled a little horse. In Paris, the home of high end cuisine, buying a horse steak is not at all unusual. And it seems that it’s the “secret ingredient” in many of Europe’s industrially-produced meat products, such as frozen lasagna and frozen patties.
Ok, stop. Don’t freak out. As long as the meat has been inspected, it should be fine. Believe it or not, horsemeat is actually pretty healthy to eat, if you can get past the image of a filly’s kind, soulful eyes looking at you. The meat is lean, finely textured, slightly sweet, rich in protein, and tender. It’s a little better than beef. A three-ounce serving of horse meat has 149 calories, 24 grams of protein, and five grams of fat – that’s fewer calories and fat than beef, and just as much protein.
It appears the taboo against hippophagy – that’s eating horseflesh – has religious roots. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III wanted pagan converts to end the practice, calling it “filthy and abominable.” Other religions are generally opposed to the practice – Muslims frown upon it and horse is not kosher. And, today horses are lovable animals that most Americans consider to be pets, and they therefore can’t even contemplate eating them.
But if you can overlook those factors, eating horse meat is not the worst thing in the world. The folks at foodie website Grub Street must think it’s okay – they offer up 20 restaurants around the world where you can enjoy horsemeat.
Horse tacos, anyone?