I love a good scandal.
There are all kinds of scandals. Sex scandals, financial scandals, government scandals, and that guy who hates gays but turns out to be gay himself scandals. The crazier the better. And right now, Europe is in the throes of one of the craziest scandals of all time. A horse meat scandal.
It all started in January 2013 when horse meat was found mixed in with frozen beef in the UK and Ireland. Genetic testing revealed as much as 29% of the sold meat was from horses. ABP Food Group’s subsidiaries were found to be culpable in the UK and Ireland. February, in France, a company called Spanghero was caught intentionally selling horse meat labelled as beef. Apparently, they bought the meat from Romania, where it had been labeled correctly, and then changed the label to beef. This seemed like a good idea at the time, because people could unwitting get all the health benefits of horse meat Big Macs.
Also in February, Europe-wide frozen food company Findus started testing its meat and found that 60-100% of its meat was from horses. 60 to 100%? Seriously, you guys? All of your “beef” was actually horse and nobody could tell the fucking difference? Its supplier was Comigel, another French company. Comigel stated that its supplier was Spanghero. Oh, man, Spanghero, you are totally fucked now. A devious plan to save a few Euros will now likely end up shutting you down completely. I’m sure if Europe is anything like the U.S., the geniuses who came up with this idea will be given huge paycheck bonuses.
But wait, there’s more! Do you like Swedish meatballs? How about cheap furniture? Is your ideal date wandering around the maze of Ikea and then sitting down in their cafeteria to eat Swedish meatballs? Well, it turns out they were serving horse meatballs all along! This shit is turning out to be an epidemic! Nestle, Birds Eye, Sodexo, and Latvian company Kursu Zeme were all selling some degree of horse meat mixed in with their beef. Oh, but guess what? It keeps on coming! Now it looks like UK Burger King and Taco Bell are selling horse meat, too! Nothing says fiesta like eating a dead horse! (Although, for Taco Bell, horse meat may be an improvement from the rat meat they have traditionally used.)
Everyone is up in arms about this horse meat scandal. After all, who eats horse anyway? Well, as it turns out, a shitload of people. Pretty much everyone in Asia: including China, Japan, Indonesia, and Korea. And pretty much everyone in Europe, too. Most notably, France, Belgium, Iceland, Italy, and Norway. Oh hey, look who else loves horse meat: Canadians! Well, at least people from Quebec. I suppose being settled by the French has something to do with that. And you know what? Eating horse meat recently became legal again in the U.S., although culturally it isn’t very popular.
What’s the big deal, anyway? It’s not unhealthy. Dietarily speaking, it’s on par with beef. Hell, it must look and taste like beef, since it had most of Europe fooled for who knows how long. The French apparently love eating horse, since they were packing up Findus’ beef products with 100% horse meat. Spanghero was just trying to show the world how delicious horses are. I’d bet they were waiting until the right moment to reveal they were force-feeding everyone horse meat in an attempt to make it the top cuisine in the world.
So why is it the British, Irish, and Americans don’t like it? There is one simple explanation: horses are cute.
Yes, we snobby Westerners refuse to eat any animal that looks cute. Dogs? Forget about it. Cats? No way? Horses? Nope. Monkeys? Not a chance. Whales? You’re crazy. Other humans? Well, they sound tasty, but good luck finding that on the menu at McDonald’s. (Maybe Jack in the Box serves it.)
Pretty much anything that is considered cute (cat, whale) or a companion animal (horse, dog) is off-limits. We spend so much time admiring these species that we anthropomorphize them and think they are just like humans. And since we don’t eat humans, we don’t eat things we associate with humans.
A few years ago I visited Japan. At a sushi restaurant I learned they served whale. I wondered if I should try it. Where else in the world could I eat whale? When was I ever going to have another opportunity? Besides, the whale was already dead and ready to be served. It would be wasteful to not eat it. So, I went ahead and ordered. And you know what? It was fucking delicious! It was so damn good I ordered seconds. It got me thinking, “Maybe cute animals taste even better than normal-looking animals? Maybe the cuteness sweetens the meat? Maybe the taboo of eating them makes them all the more delectable?”
I answered “yes” to all of those questions. So now, I am on a quest to eat the cutest animals I can find. The following is a list of cute animals I intended to eat someday:
I’m sure there are many more cute, delicious animals waiting to be eaten. I haven’t eaten horse yet, but I can’t wait. I’m sure it tastes horsalicious.