In France, Horse Tartare And Carpaccio Are Galloping To A Menu Near You

Tyler Durden's picture

"My mission is to tell the world that you can sit on your meat and eat it too”

Jean-Guillaume Dufour Restaurateur

Even as the blissfully unaware people of one nation after another have learned much to their disgust that over the past however many years they had been consuming horseburgers, horse lasagna and maybe even Kentucky Fried Horse, in France the local chefs are wondering: what's the big deal?

As BBC reports, "horse has long been enjoyed in some European countries. In Paris, fashionable chefs have actually been putting it back on their menus. So will more diners now be jumping for the horse tartare?" The French reality is that while horsemeat consumption has been declining and accounts for "just" 0.4% of all meat eaten, there are still 750 horse-butchers operating in the country, 17% of the population claim to have eaten horse at some time or another, and about 11,000 farmers continue to raise horses for the meat trade. But that may be about to change: the horsemeat renaissance is coming to a bistro near you.

And here we get a vivid reminder that one man's horsemeat, is another (French)man's delicacy. From BBC:

Coinciding with - and possibly contributing to - this stabilisation of the market is a new gastro-trend among Paris foodies. 


A handful of chefs have started putting horse on their menus.
Go to Les Tontons, for example, opposite the former Paris horse
abattoir in the 15th arrondissement, and you can be served a succulent
horse tartare (raw horse with egg and seasoning).


"Of course, it is perfectly apt because the original steak
tartare was horse. The Mongol tribesmen ate their own horses and
tenderised the steak under their saddles," says owner Jean-Guillaume


Actually there is no historical evidence for this, but who wants to spoil a good story?


"My mission is to tell the world that you can sit on your meat and eat it too," he enthuses.


"Yes I know horses are pretty and friendly and so on. But cows would be, too, if we let them."


Other hip restaurants - such as Le Taxi Jaune, Le Verre Vole
and Septime - serve horse carpaccio, horse hamburgers with quail's eggs,
or straightforward horse steaks.


One chef, Bertrand Grebaut, caused a minor sensation at a recent culinary event when he carved and cooked a horse's heart - live on a big screen - in front of an audience of fellow cooks and food-writers.


"There's definitely something going on - a kind of buzz," says Dorian Nieto, food blogger, horse-meat aficionado, and author of La boucherie chevaline etait ouverte le lundi (The horse-butcher was open on Mondays), a celebration of horse-eating.


"A number of restaurateurs have told me they are checking out where to buy top-quality horsemeat. It's all about a return to old values, a kind of nostalgia. And yes it is all rather trendy and Parisian. But there's a frisson, no question about it."


Given how strongly identified France is with the practice of horse-eating, the history of l'hippophagie is actually quite short.


In the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) it is said that - by necessity rather than desire - French soldiers developed a certain taste for cheval.


But it was only in 1866 that horse-eating was permitted by law. Thanks to an alliance of nutritionists, social reformers and, funnily enough, animal welfare supporters, the practice was actively promoted.


The 1870-71 siege of Paris by invading Prussians was a turning-point. Many people tasted horse for the first time, as thousands of the animals were slaughtered. It turned out people quite liked it.


In the decades that followed l'hippophagie became increasingly popular, with a peak in 1911. Around this time, horses began to be imported because the French market was unable to supply enough.


Horse consumption was essentially a habit of the urban working and middle classes. Country people and the rich who had closer contact with the animals were more liable to feel qualms.


And overwhelmingly horse-eating was based in two regions - the north and around Paris.


After World War II the decline set in, and it became precipitate from the 1980s. Today, it is noticeable that most clients at boucheries chevalines are in their 60s or older, suggesting that young people find the practice difficult to stomach.


However butchers like Fabien Ouazan, who has a stall on the Cours de Vincennes market in Paris - are convinced the qualities of horsemeat will ensure its survival.


"With horsemeat, you know what you get," he says. "Other animals get fed all kinds of rubbish, but horses eat only oats, barley and hay.


"It shows in the meat. So a lot of people who are concerned about health and the quality of meat, are turning to the horse."

And another "justification":

Another argument for eating horse is suggested by Otis Lebert, chef at Le Taxi Jaune.


"A lot of horse breeds are disappearing. We no longer have any use for draught horses, for example, or the ponies that went down the mines," he says.


"So either we let these breeds die out. Or we preserve them, by eating them."

One wonders if the French will also "preserve" all the mutant wondermeat comprising what is elsewhere known as KFC with the same fervor they have demonstrated for horse. We have a feeling that once the massive recession that is headed France's way finally hits, local chefs will have ample soundbite opportunity and find many more justifications for consuming not only horse, but everything else that one can find in a restaurant in the middle of provincal China, where they too have their "justifications."

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RealityCheque's picture

Don't understand the problem. Why is it ok to volutarily eat beef but horses are off limits because we, as a culture, have humanized them as domesticated animals. Our outlook on them as honorary humans doesn't change the fact that they are made of meat.

Cows and horses are both edible, they are both pretty tasty. What is the fucking problem?

FFS pork is the most popular meat on earth and pigs are considered to be considerably more intelligent than dogs. So climb down from your high-horse (pun intended) and realise that eating any meat is murder. Tasty tasty murder.


Shooting Shark's picture

And if love, like meat, is murder

Still all murder, isn't meat

And if you can't eat the one you love

Honey love the one you eat

Ghordius's picture

murder? is a lion a murderer? the article just shows that this inflow of state-mandated away-with-the-past Romanian horses have shifted the meat markets in europe. btw you'll find horse butcherers in north-west Italy, too

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

I blame this aversion on MR ED, a horse is a horse of course of course, unless it's mr ed.

Stackers's picture

Horse theft has actually exploded in the U.S. in recent years as people steal horses and butcher them for meat to sell.

Texas, Florida and Oklahoma in particular have been hit hard with people coming in a cleaning out a stable full of horses.

Gordon Freeman's picture

Eh, oui--Boucherie Chevaline!  Vat is ze beeg deal?? Boff...

Landrew's picture

I lived in France for a short time and have eaten horse. Still not my first choice, not bad, not great. When we stop killing people I will stop eating meat, done.

duo's picture

A friend of mine got toxiplasmosis from eating raw horsemeat.  If you're going to eat it, cook it first.  You wouldn't eat pork raw, would you?

monoloco's picture

Horse meat and donkey meat are leaner and taste better than beef.

msmith9962's picture

My wife of 13 years has been a vegetarian for around 20 years.  She's got me eating veggie burgers once in a while.  They aren't bad if you marinate them in blood cow blood for a few hours.


I dont think I would mind eating horse.  My problem is being lied to. 

Shooting Shark's picture

Who's giving the over-under on months until a Hollywood film stars a big ol' CGI cow as the lead?  A kind of Black Beauty for the bovine race.

Titles are a little problematic: Black Bessie, Ol' Brownie, those will never do.  Gonna have to be a Holstein.  Der Holsteiner Diaries? SPOTS

ParkAveFlasher's picture

"This burger tastes like ASS."  - meme

otto skorzeny's picture

the day after we go to 5 Guys my wife's ass tastes like burger

bigiof's picture

Once, I met someone who refused to eat Doe in a restaurant, because, you know, Does are soooooo cute!

Surprinsingly he was not American!

It seems horses are YOUR sacred cows!


Diplodicus Rex's picture

This debate was never about eating horse. It is well understood that those who do not suffer from the (only apparent) dilemma about eating domesticated animals do so. The real debate is about the following two points:



The meat in all cases was sold as beef. This is therefore, simply fraud.



In the UK every cow destined for the human food chain is equipped with a passport from birth. It has two identical ear tags in case any one of them gets lost. The ear tag has a unique serial number. The animal can be traced, using the serial number,  from birth to slaughter and every injection or medication is documented (assuming honesty in the vetinary trade). The horse does not have that system in place. Therefore there is zero traceability of the animal and no way of preventing medications like Bute contained in the meat entering the human food chain.


Highlighting that people on the continent have always eaten horse is an irrelevant distraction from the real issues.

Ghordius's picture

+1 fraud - similar to the fraud around the "mad cow" disease, which goes back to the proteins they used to feed them

CheapBastard's picture

Rex, to be politically correct, "Fraud" is now called "Mis-sold" or "Mis-labled."

Wall Street doesn't want you to use the "F" word about anything anymore. Soon, it will be redacted from the English language by the Ministry of Truth.

Cast Iron Skillet's picture

exactly. Thanks for providing clarity.It's about fraud and potential health issues associated with the meat, and not about the type of meat.

But I do have some questions:

How sensitive are the genetic tests for horse, anyway? How many horses are we talking about? Are we talking 1 mg horse per lasagne, or more like all the meat in the lasagne is horse?

Did they do genetic testing for cockroach? rat? aardvark? weasel? bankster? .... the outcomes?


writingsonthewall's picture

In some cases 'beef' lasagne has been found to contain 100% horsemeat (i.e. no beef in your beef lasange)

This is ALL about FRAUD - make no mistake - do not be confused by the 'ministry of confusion' which is trying to turn the debate away from FRAUD.

Here are the issues.

1) Whilst horsemeat is not 'dangerous'  there is a massive difference between horsemeat designed to be eaten and unidentified horsemeat used to boost the profits of the meat makers. For starters there is no sure way of telling if these horses had been injected with horse medicine - i.e. bute - which can be a danger to human health.

2) It says beef on the packet - you should pay beef prices and get BEEF - anything wlse is FRAUD. Interestingly our local butchers have been adhering to the rules religiously - as they cannot afford an FSA fine for breach of being abe to indentify the meat source- whereas supermarkets have took the living piss - knowing they can simply pay off any fine imposed with profits.

3) they only found the horse by accident. They test for various viruses and other 'nasties' - but they don't actually check that the meat is the meat it says it is. You might pickup 'dog' because it contains nasty cultrues which should be picked up - by realistically it's totally possible for dog, rat or any other animal to be in as a filler - or sbstitute and the FSA wouldn'thave a clue.

4) The FSA (Food standards agency) have been cut to the bone by the Government - hence checks, tests and prosecutions have dried up. This is the unintended consequence of government vuts.

5) The shock of all this on the dumbass consumer (who didn't realise that food the 'cheapest for generations' might not be a miracle of capitalism - but rather a tried and tested method of 'watering down' - as we're seeing now with inflation busters) - has caused a mighty swing in the meat purchasing habits of Britain.

Inflation already exists and is being unerreported (as it is in America) - now we have products withdrawn from shelves and ahuge switch to 'quality' - which is going to raise meat price by about 30%.

...just the sort of level which starts a panic....

These are the facts and real issues - against this we have a backdrop of suppliers, supermarkets, government ministers and consumers all denying that this is a problem. Scoffing at the idea of fraud with 'mis-labelling' and arrogantly engaging in a hairy shirt contest of "well once I ate maggots and I'm still alive - what's the problem" as nobody wants to be held responsbile - or in the case of the consumer - admit they have been so foolish.

The good thing about this story is it's hiding the 2 Sars victims who died of a new strain - which is contagious and was contracted after visiting the middle east. Lets hope we can sort out the horsemeat problem first though - eh?

Diplodicus Rex's picture


Unfortunately you were doing so well until you got to this line:

4) The FSA (Food standards agency) have been cut to the bone by the Government - hence checks, tests and prosecutions have dried up. This is the unintended consequence of government vuts.


Whilst you seem to be awake to the fraud issue you seem comatose when it comes to the propaganda. THERE ARE NO CUTS. This is so important that it bears repeating, THERE ARE NO CUTS. Osborne is spending more money and hence is running a bigger deficit than that of which Brown or Darling ever dreamed. Osborne is spending so much money he is currently borrowing 8% of GDP. The entire "austerity" nonsense is propaganda. Government spending has increased hand over fist since the Tories took power.

ejmoosa's picture

It's also about keeping the price of beef artificially low by substituting a cheap beef substitute, wothout broad knowledge.


What would the price of beef have been had there been no injection of horse and donkey meat into the suppy chains?

And what would the resulting rate of inflation have been?


Are there other substitutes going into the supply chain to keep prices down?  Of course there is.

Uskatex's picture

I don't see a problem. In Sardinia, where I live, most restaurants have horse steak in their menu. Sometimes I too eat it.

Other dishes are rabbit, goat and donkey (this is not easy to find, though).

In the past (before WWII), in Vicenza (near Venice) they were famous for eating cats! In Italy I never heard of eating dogs like in China, though.

Bon Appetit!


Ghordius's picture

don't forget doves and pigeons

GlobalCtzn's picture

It is not the horse meat that is bad. It is the BUTE that can fuck you up real good.

lizzy36's picture

Yanks eat Bambi, Thumper so why not Secretariat?

Also, why the hell is anyone suprised that the resturaunt at the fricking furniture store is selling 15 "meatballs" and 2 sides for a $1.99 that may contain mystery meat. Jesus considering the pink slime (once, used only in dog food)is served to kids in the public school system in the US, should people really be repulsed by the idea of horse/

Zgangsta's picture

Once we're fine with eating horses, it brings us one step closer to eating Soylent Green.

otto skorzeny's picture

only w/ fava beans and a nice Chianti

Cookie's picture

25 years in Asia means I have eaten some real weird 'food', the worst was goose intestine stuffed with goose fat, boiled.

Sudden Debt's picture


Zer0head's picture

moo, neigh, oink, bahhh, ribbit, woof, meow, squeek ...

... Mr. Kurtz

deerhunter's picture

I think poaching the king's deer back in England would get you hanged back in the day.  Venison=no chemicals,  hormones or man made cattle feed.  Delicious. 

andrewp111's picture

We don't have Whinny Burgers on the menu at McDonalds for one simple reason - there isn't enough horse to go around for that kind of mass production. Horses are not commercially raised for food in the US. Sending old, worn out horses to France for meat is the modern alternative to the glue factory.

falak pema's picture

You know that bad as a cow is for converting energy into protein on the food chain scale, a horse is even worse!

If you you keep tabs on whats what in the bang for an energy buck of staple conversion to protein nourishment, you'd down vote the horse in your tartare!

But the French love to do everything upside down; they tax you FIRST even before you've made a buck as start-up entrepreneur!

They've built a whole industry paradigm back in 1982 on the diesel motor car engine, with diesel being taxed WAY below gasoline to subsidise the french  car industry, hurt by VW/Toyota exports surge into other EU countries. (Overall tax in France is 60-70% of the retail price at the pump paid by consumer for gasoline).

Just to please Peugoet and ALSO Total, by avoiding to revamp french refining industry with more cracker capacity ("I don't wanna invest in France", sang the oil majors), ("Gimme a tax break in diesel motors where I can make a niche  against these Nippo-Boche blood suckers", sang Peugeot).

And the government did it! Used differential TAX sleight of hand to solve a short term competitive problem IN TWO KEY SECTORS and ...found itself with a bigger problem of DISINVESTMENT in real innovation and leading edge tech in both domains thirty years down the road!

Now Montebourg sings, "sorry we need money and we tax the diesel at par with gasoline and poor Peugeot sings "you're planting a knife in my back which is half broken anyway!" 

Such be the logic of government interventionism...and then...Montebourg back pedals !

Lol, no, no, we must protect Peugeot!...our car industry cannot be abandoned; goodbye the pollution concerns and tax revenues from diesel; about turn all! 

SO coming back to horse tartare, if it FEEDS a mini bistrot boom now which creates a Media diversion from mega food industry hanky panky of huge proportions, the real canary in the coal mine, and IS totally inconsequentially trendy, then that's the way to go!

Montebourg go ride your horse in the Barnum circus for government clowns living off handouts! 

ziggy59's picture

People appear offended because they feel ripped off. Funny how more people are complaining about fraud in a hamburger more than the fraud in the financial and political world.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

You can put a sympathetic face on this. It is like trotting out children or cute animals to tug on people's heart strings. People are fucked up and their priorities ass backwards. That is an educational and societal problem first and foremost. WE are the problem and that WE includes them but WE not including them are also the solution if that ephipany is ever realized by enough people.


writingsonthewall's picture

The difference is that people think the financial fraud 'doesn't affect them' - but the horsemeat scandal does.

They do not realse one ultimately leads to the other.....

orangedrinkandchips's picture

It is actually a middle-aged person who's numbers/health stats are not terribly good (super low blood pressure despite a salt-lover but the cholestoerol is high).


So now I hear a friend of mine who went veggie for a bit AND HIS NUMBERS DROPPED LIKE CRAZY!!


Beef, which is awesome inho, is very HARD for your system to digest! I can feel it even though I love it.


Veggie or veggie light (sometimes eat meat) is like going downstream instead of upstream.....your body will love you and will show you how much it enjoys life sans horse!!!


It's a big kick in the ass......i aint eating horse....beans and rice it is!!!


Not easy since I love beef, but i've been doign something wrong for along time.....

Hongcha's picture

Populations continue to explode and resources get harder to find.  The horrors are just getting started, folks.

etresoi's picture

We, Swiss, also eat horse meat.  One can also find cat and dog, for sale in specialty shops.  Personally, I have no interest in tasting.

It is the Murikans, who are very careful to only eat factory food and then only if it is well marinated in chemical preservatives and antibiotics.  Kentucky  Fried Chicken, y'all, direct from KFC factories in China.

writingsonthewall's picture

...and don't feel too cocky over there - we just found horse in Taco Bell (and we know they love to keep their processes uniform across countries!)

...and I hear there is a slight problem with your tuna.

The cost of potatoes has gone up by 300% in Britain in the last 2 years - this was due to a bad harvest / weather. All these food problems are going to conjure up one almightly chaotic retreat by consumers back to traditional food channels.

It's not so much eachindiviudal scandal - it's the combined effect of them which will be the problem.

otto skorzeny's picture

I just hope when the SHTF they don't start substituting lean jogging yuppies for chubby suburban moms

de3de8's picture

So long as there's no anal leakage.

icanhasbailout's picture

As long as they don't start serving cat, I'm cool with it.

noses's picture

I remember being part of a group of 40 tourists eating Souvlaki in a small town in Greece with the roads full of cats. The next morning not a single cat was to be seen. I never found out what we ate. And Germans call cats "Dach-Hase" (roof-bunny).



Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Tried a horse steak tartare one time in Europe, and was amazed.
Would eat horse meat over cow anytime.
Also worth noting that horses are cleaner animals and fussier eaters than cows. Plus, the odd horse has pissed me off more than an occasional cow. He who eats last...

noses's picture

I still don't understand it. Ok, we've got some excess horse at the moment (call it inflation but don't think of horses the size of elephants, please) as some Eastern European countries have made (unlicensed) horses on the roads illegal but most of the time horse meat is so expensive that it will not pay to substitute beef by horse.


Do me a favour: Eat more horses, thus keeping the bike paths free of shit.