Where do you go locally for a good horseburger?
News that horse meat has surreptitiously been tucked into prepared products labeled “all beef,” including burgers and lasangna, has caused an “eeew gross!” scandal in parts of Europe. Burger King restaurants in Ireland and England dropped a supplier that might have been linked to the meat switch.
But apparently none of the “tainted” meat reached the United States, although, ironically, the horse meat might originally have been butchered in the U.S. and illegally exported to European purveyers. That apparently happens a lot because of America’s horse surplus.
I haven’t tried horse meat but I’d like to. While Americans, the British and Irish turn up their noses at a hearty plate of horse, the French, Mexicans, centrial Asians and eastern Europeans eat it regularly.
My general rule is that, if a major civilization (not just a small Amazon tribe) eats something on a regular basis, I’m willing to try it. And if the French like it, that’s a higher seal of approval. (I hear seal is excellent, by the way.)
I’m not much interested in novelty food, food that is consumed strictly for the thrill factor or to prove that nothing can make you throw up. I’m in no hurry to eat live shrimp, spiders or bats.
But I’m open to trying almost anything that a significant number of people find tasty. For example, bring on the insects.
People throughout the world regularly eat insects. They’re a great source of protein. I would have no objection to a serving of well prepared grasshoppers or ants, which are delicacies in Latin America.
I ordered a grasshopper taco at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., but they were out of them. Too popular, I guess. Maybe a good plague of locusts would increase the supply.
I have eaten fried meal worms (tasteless) but otherwise not many other insects, at least not on purpose.
I have eaten batter-fried bull testicles, more delicately known as prairie oysters. These are so commonly eaten across the American West that they aren’t even considered that unusual.
This makes me believe that Americans will eat most seemingly weird foods with just a little practice. Consider the spreading popularity of sushi.
Not long ago, most Americans were revolted by the idea of eating raw fish. Now sushi is wildly popular and even sold in grocery stores.
I remember a few decades ago when a friend served seviche, the Mexican dish of fish cured in lime juice. Some at the dinner said they absolutely would not eat raw fish, but the host assured them it had been cooked, so they ate some and loved it.
Later, they asked him how he had cooked it. “Oh, for about six hours at 45 degrees,” he said.
I have eaten rattlesnake (tastes like chicken, but it’s all neck, as the jokesters like to note). I have eaten bear and sea urchin eggs.
I like liver, sweetbreads, kidneys and other organ meats. Ditto for cabeza, which essentially is cooked cow’s head.
A number of cheeses fall into the category of exotic foods, notably those redolent of dirty socks. But most foods that people shy away from tend to be meats of some kind.
Apparently, eating plants is rarely considered revolting, although I’ve eaten overdone broccoli that I’d trade for snake. Unless, perhaps, we’re talking about kimchi or atomic-grade hot peppers, veggies aren’t that threatening.
So, the world of weird eating is confined primarily to carnivores. And unless I’m in France, I probably won’t get to taste horse.
Horse is one food Americans are not likely to embrace. Our cowboy culture runs too deep. When Trigger died, he got stuffed and put in a museum, not braised and served as Sunday dinner.
Then again, maybe I’ll get to try horse the next time I eat lasagna or a fast-food burger. I just won’t realize it at the time.
James Werrell, Herald opinion page editor, can be reached at 329-4081 or, by email, at email@example.com.