On my recent trip to Venice, I was overwhelmed with a variety of delicious, exotic sea creatures on every restaurant menu. But since I was in Italy, I also yearned for meat — specifically, salumi. I was able to get some fine, reasonably priced culatello di Zibello — the very heart (though "culatello" best translates as "little piece of ass") of the prosciutto — my black market source in New York charges upwards of $100 a pound. I also had strolghino — a salami made from the finest trimmings of the culatello. But I wanted something that I could not find for love or money in New York. Something I'd never had before.
Near the Rialto fish and produce markets is a salumeria named, appropriately enough, Casa del Parmigiano, founded in 1936 by a native of Parma. After ordering my culatello, my gaze fell upon the bresaola. Bresaola is air-dried beef and very easy to get back home. Usually the meat is served simply in a salad with arugula and thinly sliced Parmigiano-Reggiano; it's one of my favorites. But this bresaola was a much darker color than I'd seen before. My rudimentary Italian also informed me that this was no ordinary bresalo di "manzo" (beef). This was bresaola di "cavallo"... horse.
I repressed my deep admiration and respect for Secretariat and its offspring as I ordered 100 grams. It was indeed darker, redder, and richer than any bresaola I'd ever tasted. All I could think about was sharing my experience with you, dear reader, and the potential headlines for my editor to groan and roll his eyes over: Scratched horse off my list? Straight from the horse to my mouth? And,of course, the dark-horse choice: Man bites horse.