Museum "Dinette" Considers Serving Horsemeat

Will diners say neigh to raw horsemeat in Queens?


Animal rights activists and just generally sensitive folk of various stripes are closely watching MoMA PS1, the outpost of Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art in Long Island City, Queens — and specifically watching its restaurant, M. Wells Dinette. It seems that once the place is up and running (any day now), M. Wells chef Hugue Dufour is planning on serving horsemeat tartare, and possibly horsemeat in other forms. Horse lovers everywhere are bridling at the thought.

Horsemeat is popular protein in many parts of the world. I first ate it, stewed, in Brussels, and the Belgians in general are great fans of this lean, slightly sweet variety of animal flesh. (The original pommes frites, created in Belgium, not France, were fried in horsemeat fat.) I've also eaten it in tartare form in Siena, as pasta sauce in Verona, and as steak cooked on a backyard grill in a Parisian suburb. (Though they're dying out now, French cities used to be full of specialty horsemeat butchers, called chevalines, in which were sold virtually every cut of meat you can imagine, all from equine sources.) I don't see anything wrong with it. In fact, I'm not sure I would have known that it wasn't beef if I hadn't been told. Horses are cute? So are those big, gentle, sad-eyed beasts we call cows. Horses are noble? So are deer, and that doesn't stop us from eating venison (er, does it?) — and anyway, that's anthropomorphism.

Canadians eat horsemeat without much trouble, in any case, and Dufour of course hails from Montreal (where he cooked at the noted foie-gras-and-pork palace Au Pied de Cochon); last summer, at the Great GoogaMooga Festival in Brooklyn, Dufour served grilled cheese sandwiches with foie gras and horsemeat bologna. So why shouldn't he now offer horsemeat in another of the five boroughs?

Is it legal? Yes, and it always has been. Some people will tell you that eating horsemeat was banned in America some years back. Not so. What happened was that in 2006, Congress passed legislation prohibiting the use of federal funds to inspect horses raised for food, which had the effect of closing down the domestic horse butchery industry. This year, a new agricultural act restored those funds, so the industry might revive. No matter, though, as it has continued in Mexico and Canada all along, and there's no prohibition against American chefs importing horsemeat from those countries.

If M. Wells goes ahead with its plans and its customers discover that they actually like horsemeat — it might help if they find out that it has almost 20 times the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids found in beef — it might even become the new trendy ingredient. All over America we might soon be eating a new kind of mane course.
 


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5 Comments

orwinB's picture

I first has horse meat in 1972 and have enjoyed it immensely.

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LET ME START BY SAYING I AM AN AVID HUNTER, IN PARTICULAR...ELK AND DEER. WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND IS WE DO NEED HUNTERS FOR THE SIMPLE REASON OF OVER POPULATION, THESE ANIMALS ARE TO THE POINT OF STARVATION IN STATES LIKE COLORADO. THE STATE HAS TO GO IN AND DROP HAY WHEN ITS SO BAD THEY HAVE NOTHING TO EAT. SO THESE STATES DON'T HAVE NEARLY ENOUGH HAY TO FEED THEM. THEN THEY HAVE TO GO IN AND DO A "CONTROLLED KILL" IF YOU HAVE EVER SEEN ONE OF THOSE YOU WOULD STAND THERE AND BALL YOUR EYES OUT! I DID, WITTNESSING HUNDREDS OF ELK MACHINE GUNNED DOWN THEN MASS BURIED. THIS MEAT COULD HAVE BEEN USED IN THESE KINDS OF RESTAURANTS INSTEAD OF THE GOD MADE TO SERVE MAN MAJESTIC ANIMALS SUCH AS THE HORSE! WHEN I PAY MY $450.00 TO GET INTO THE LOTTERY TO DRAW 1 ELK TAG TO SHOOT AN ELK AND BRING IT HOME TO FEED MY FAMILY FOR THE WINTER. I WAIST NOTHING ON THE ANIMAL AND GIVE PRAISE TO GOD AND TO THE ELK. PEOPLE WAKE UP. YOU CAN THROW RED PAINT ON MY TRUCK OR TRY TO BLOCK ME FROM MY ENTRANCE BUT ALL YOUR DOING IN CONDONING THESE CONTROLLED KILLS AND WAISTFULLNESS OF THIS VERY NUTRICIOUS HEALTHY NATURAL MEAT PROVIDED TO US BY GOD INSTEAD OF ALL THESE HORMONE FILLED CATTLE AND HORSES INJECTED WITH DEADLY MEDICINES TO HUMANS. THIS IS SO WRONG. FIGHT BIG GOVERNMENT ON THESE CONTROLLED KILLINGS INSTEAD OF PICKING ON THE SINGLE HUNTER TRYING TO FEED HIS/HER FAMILY THAT MAKE NOT EVEN ENOUGH MONEY TO GET THE BASIC NEEDS IN LIFE AND THAT MAKE A FEW DOLLARS TO MUCH TO GET HELP WITH FOODSTAMPS. THIS WHOLE SYSTEM IS UPSIDE DOWN. WHY DON'T WE PUT SOMEONE IN THESE GOVERNMENT OFFICES THAT HAS GONE TO BED HUNGRY THEN LETS SEE WHAT HAPPENS. I MYSELF WOULD VOLUNTEER TO GO INTO OFFICE WITH NO PAY AND OFFER UP MY ADVICE ON HOW IT IS TO LIVE THIS WAY. I HAVE GONE TO BED HUNGRY IN ORDER FOR MY CHILD TO BE ABLE TO EAT BOTH AS A CHILD AND MY LIFE AS AN ADULT, THREW NO FAULT OF MY OWN. PLEASE LOOK AT IT FROM ANOTHER POINT! LINDA

babel13's picture

GOOD ON YOU!!! I HAVE SEEN ENOUGH WASTE, NOT ONLY ANIMAL LIFE, BUT CROPS THAT COULD GO TO FEED THE HUNGRY!!! BUT, ALAS IT IS GREED THAT RUNS RAMPANT AROUND THE WORLD THAT IS STARVING IN MANY COUNTRIES!!!

babel13's picture

I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST ANY RELEGION, BUT MANY WILL HAVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS AGAINST MANY FORMS OF ANIMAL, AND ANIMAL BY-PRODUCTS. AND THEN THERE ARE THE VEGANS AND VEGETARIANS, WHO GO TO THE OTHER EXTREME IN THE CONSUMPTION OF ANIMALS. TO WHICH I SAY BOSH!!! WHEN ONE IS HUNGRY, EVEN TO THE POINT OF STARVATION, SUCH CONSIDERATIONS MEAN ABSOLUTLY NOTHING!!! ALL ANIMALS WILL EAT THEIR OWN FECAL MATERIAL AND VOMIT WHEN CERTAIN ELEMENTS ARE LACKING IN THEIR NORMAL DIETS. IT IS A MATTER OF SELF PRESERVATION!!! SO WHILE ALL FORMS OF SUBSTANANCE ARE READILY AVAILABLE, EACH TO THEIR OWN, AND REMEMBER WE DO NOT LIVE TO EAT, WE EAT TO LIVE. NO MATTER THE FANCY NAME GIVEN TO ANY DISH!!!

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Hi Colman,
M. Wells' plans to put horse meat on the menu raises serious public health issues arising out of the long list of drugs that are legal to use in riding horses, but not if they are to be slaughtered for food. These include Phenybutazone, a common pain killer used by more than 90% of U.S. horse owners that is a known human carcinogen. Other banned drugs commonly used in horses later slaughtered for meat include wormers (Ivermectin), fly sprays, vaccines, diuretics, snake venom, steroids--all of them banned by the FDA in animals slaughtered for human consumption. My article, "How Safe Is That Horse Meat?" http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2012/06/18/how-safe-is-that-h... details how loopholes allow contaminated meat with banned drugs to be available for export to foreign companies--and right back to Queens. You talk about deer being noble without understanding the cultural reference of horses and their place in history and in sports. Racehorses, the most overmedicated horses in the world, make millions for owners and then wind up, full of drugs harmful to humans, in the slaughter pipeline. Unlike cattle, horses are not raised for meat. They spend their lives working in our employ, as carriage horses, sport horses, camp ponies, wild horses, police horses, war horses, and race horses. As such, they develop close ties to humans as part of their training: the horse's instinct to flight, combined with its willingness to trust humans, produces a sport animal that is both dependent on humans and socialized to them. That is not true of deer and most meat animals. Whatever your sensitivities may be on the humane issues of slaughtering animals that have become like pets, do not underestimate the health issues. Serving contaminated food to the public is not trendy. It is dangerous.

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