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Horse and Beans


Yesterday it was reported that 75 per cent of beef products exported to Ireland from Poland may not be beef but horse. The Food Standards Agency in the UK promises to make public from now on the results of its investigations into the meat (and horse) trade.

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Auguste Escoffier was drafted into the army as a cook and stationed at Metz. He wrote about horse meat in his autobiography. Food at first was plentiful; then, as the war carried on, it wasn’t:

Around 15 September the lack of food supplies began to be felt and I had to attack my reserves. From then on horse meat was the highlight of my menus, which consisted of horse stew one day, braised horse meat the next, macaroni horse meat the next, horse meat with lentils, with beans, with peas, etc. I must say that if the meal of ‘man’s best conquest’ was at that time not cooked with every possible sauce then it was at least garnished with every possible kind of bean.

Comments on “Horse and Beans”

  1. deMan says:

    From ‘The Recognitions’ by William Gaddis, published in 1955:

    “The newspaper slipped to the floor, and Mr. Pivner sat up as though called. A half-pound of ground beef waited in the kitchen, for his supper. (-Is it all beef? he had asked insistently; and assured that it was, did not ask how old it was, and so was not told that it had got its succulent redness from sodium sulphite rubbed into it when it had turned toxic gray the day before)”.

  2. Rikkeh says:

    The report actually says that offcuts tested that were labelled “beef” each contained up to 75% horse meat, not that 75% of “beef” exported from Poland to Ireland might be horse. LRB’s interpretation of this makes the problem seem a lot worse than it actually is.

    I hate to be a pedant about these things, especially when they don’t cut to the core of the post, but if I can’t insist on crystal clear English in the LRB blog, where on the internet can I?

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