Number 89: Horse

5 Mar

I bet you thought I couldn’t do it.  I bet you thought I wouldn’t do it. I bet you thought I’d make it to this one and give up.  But I wasn’t gonna let this one slide, even if I had to leave the country to complete it.  And I didn’t just eat horse, either.  I ate it raw.  Ok, now you can start with the onslaught of negative comments.

I am well aware that this is quite a controversial post.  Horses have earned pet status in America and the consumption of horse meat is something that is still incredibly taboo in much of the western world.  I’m not going to get into the arguments for or against eating horse; all I am going to say is that I am incredibly open-minded and will try almost anything once, so I decided to seek out horse meat wherever I could.

Although President Obama recently lifted the five-year ban on horse slaughter in the USA, I wasn’t successful in finding any horse in the states.  But when I found out that you could get horse in Canada, I immediately started planning my trip to Toronto.  Thanks to Yelp, I found a highly-rated charcuterie in the city that had horse tartare on its menu.  It was called The Black Hoof and I couldn’t wait to visit.

I learned online that because The Black Hoof doesn’t take reservations, you pretty much have to get there the second they open to get a table without waiting for hours.  Dan and I walked three miles in 35-degree weather to get there, and we ended up at their door about fifteen minutes early.  We sat down on a bench they had outside and within two minutes, a line had started to form behind us.  When six o’clock hit, we all poured through the door and sat down.  I had been studying the menu for weeks, so I knew exactly what I wanted to get: the spicy horse tartare, the cheese plate, and the beef tongue on brioche.  The cheese came out first, and the three cheeses were paired with amazing sweet sauces.  Divine.

The cow’s tongue was like a super tender version of corned beef and was paired with mayo, mustard, gherkins, and pickled celery.  Super delicious.
Finally, it was horse time.  The horse tartare was plated beautifully, with a bed of fried potatoes (or onions…I couldn’t tell), blobs of spicy mustard, and some slices of sweet pickle.  I spread a little bit of everything on a piece of bread and dug in.

The horse was much juicier and chewier than ground beef, and it had a gamey flavor.  It had a little bit of a bite because of the spices they used, and the crunchy potato/onions were a fabulous contrast with the soft meat.  My favorite bites were actually the ones that had sweet pickles on them, though.  They were fresh and acidic and cut through the somewhat heavy meat and mayo combo.  The whole dish was ridiculously good.
Yes, I ate horse.  Hate me if you want, but I did it.  And it was fabulous.  When I compare this experience to my steak tartare experience in Prague, I don’t know if I can choose a winner.  The horse meat had such an interesting texture and flavor that made it stand out, and I would have it again if it were more readily available.  But until then, I think I’ll stick to riding horses instead of devouring them.


8 Responses to “Number 89: Horse”

  1. Big Onion March 6, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Kudos to you! I’d love to give it a try.

    Here’s that I had been told about horse meat:

    Before they had this horse ban in the US, farmers would take their old or injured horses to slaughterhouses. There they would be processed (humanely) and then the meat would be exported or used for dog food.

    When the ban went into effect, a lot of farmers had nowhere to go with the horses. Some of them put them down in the back of their properties, some just took them out and left them to die from starvation. I think this kind of death was worse than a slaughterhouse. And worse? The carcasses would rot since they had nowhere to go, and would bring all sorts of predators/scavengers — wolves, wild dogs, etc.

    Using the horse for meat after it’s served its purpose as a pet or work animal is, I think, better than letting it die of starvation since a farmer can’t afford to feed it and then let it rot out in some field.

    So, cheers to you for giving it a try. It’s doubtful we’ll see it on any menus here in the US, so maybe I’ll have an opportunity to try it at some point if I can ever leave the country for a trip! 🙂

    • Kathryn March 6, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Yeah, I read that PETA actually kind of supported the lifted ban on horse slaughter because the horses didn’t have to suffer through a long, cramped and scary truck ride to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered.

  2. Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic March 6, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    kudos to you. Not sure if I could do it but much like my thing w/ eating beef. If I don’t have to look a cow in the eye while I eat my steak I’m OK.

    Bottom line they made horses pets/work animals instead of food because they were more valuable as workers vs. dinner. That’s the main reason. Add to that the fact that they are beautiful animals it probably helps their case of not being on food tables. In the end though, I think cows are pretty beautiful and I still eat steak… go figure.


  3. Beth March 6, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Thanks so much! I’ve never seen horse meat on a menu, so I didn’t think I’d ever know what it tastes like…and now I do, thanks to you. I would have imagined it to be gamey and tough and flavorless, so this is interesting to me.

  4. Laura in Cancun March 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    I don’t hate you! All 3 parts of your meal look absolutely mouthwatering.

  5. IntenseGuy March 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    I would have thought horse meat would taste like glue…….


  6. Cathy March 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Hmmm…I think if given the opportunity I’d have to try horse just to say I tried it, even though they’re one of my favorite animals. You’re dishes all sound fantastic, especially the cows tongue, which I think would creep me out more than horse.

    So I just looked through your list and realized that you are almost done with the challenge. I’m kinda bummed because I’m moving to Milwaukee soon and wanted to come down and try something with you. But, you’re challenge will be over before I get down there. HOWEVER, you now have vast knowledge of the Chicago food scene, so I expect us to go out for a fab dinner some night:)

  7. Amy March 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Very nice kath. Off that menu I would like the smoked sweetbreads, bone marrow, house cured meats and pickles. Cow’s tongue isn’t something that would jump out at me, but if I drove up to Canada for horse meat anyway I suppose I would have to try that too. I loved seeing the bone marrow on the menu- I’ve recently been eating bone marrow and doing Manhattan luge shots out of them when most of the marrow is scraped out… I know you don’t like bourbon but I highly suggest the idea (a friend did van gogh double espresso shots out of a lamb shank bone…)

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