(Note: “Abroad and in a relationship with food” is a blog that tracks my romantic relationship with food as I study abroad in Parma, Italy. Because I will never love anything as much as I love food.)
Sometimes, you just need to take people out of their usual environments to highlight their best qualities. Transport the lax bro from his 8-man in Walsh to O’Neill and you may find that he has a passion for philosophy. Bring the uptight girl that you’re working on a group project with to White Mountain and you could find yourselves bonding over a shared love for pumpkin ice cream. Sometimes, the context in which you get to know a person can give you a completely false perception of his or her true character.
This is my sick and twisted way of telling you that even though I hate horses as animals, I recently discovered that I thoroughly enjoy them as food.
I don’t know what it is about horses that I don’t like, but my disdain for the species probably began when I went to a horseback riding birthday party in elementary school. I was a big fan of the movie How the West Was Fun at the time, and I figured by the end of the party I would be riding like a pro and immersed in the Western lifestyle, much like Mary Kate and Ashley at the end of the movie.
This was not the case. First of all, they tried to make us climb up onto the horses by ourselves with no assistance. I couldn’t accomplish that feat today, let alone back in the day. After a long, hard struggle to get myself onto the horse (at which point the rest of the partygoers were trotting in circles around me), I decided to ask for help.
As it turns out, at this particular place there is a rule that if you use the word “can’t” you have to ride the horse while facing backwards. Of course, I didn’t know about this rule until I tried to explain to the woman that I couldn’t figure out how to climb up into the saddle. After embarrassing myself by being the only kid who couldn’t get herself onto the horse, I ended up having to ride around backwards on the ghastly beast, fearing both imminent death and permanent social isolation.
So, yeah, I’m not much of a horse person.
However, just as the lax bro might turn out to be less of a jerk when you remove him from Walsh, it turns out that my dislike for horses does not apply in the case of eating horsemeat. Now, I know what you’re thinking — horsemeat is a scandal, not a delicacy! Wrong. In Parma, horse is something that you eat by choice, as opposed to by trickery.
When I first heard that we would be eating horse as part of our weekly cooking class, I was vaguely horrified. I made the decision to suck it up and force myself to try it, perhaps as some kind of subconscious way to get back at every person involved with that wretched horseback riding birthday party.
As it turns out, horse is delicious. First, we ate it raw:
Then, we ate it cooked in a tomato-based sauce:
Really, it tastes very similar to beef, with a slightly stronger flavor. I guess that is how people managed to pass it off as anything but horsemeat during that so-called "scandal," but I say let bygones be bygones. It's the same attitude I have in relation to my past experiences with horses now that I realize just how tasty they are.