On Wednesday, I called Philadelphia restaurateur Peter McAndrews to talk about horse meat, since the equine-eating controversy recently popped up again, as it does every couple of years
McAndrews owns several restaurants in the Philadelphia area, including Sicilian BYOB Monsu, where he has served caballa finto (“mock horse”), his horseless take on an Italian dish, with McAndrews substituting goat. The Italians love to eat horse, and Italy is one of the world’s five biggest consumers of the animal. Now, McAndrews says he’s ready to make the leap to the real thing here in Philadelphia.
“I am going to embrace horse meat wholeheartedly at Monsu, probably in the springtime,” says McAndrews. “In Italian food, a lot of it is made into salami or cured meats, and some parts are also good like regular steak would be, just like a cow.”
There was a ban on the slaughter of horses in the United States, but President Obama lifted it in 2011. And I can’t find a Pennsylvania law prohibiting the slaughter of horses or the sale or consumption of horse meat. The regulations on horse meat inspection and importation are unclear, and in 2012, a USDA spokesperson said the agency was reviewing the matter. The USDA did not return multiple calls seeking comment for this article.
Last year, New York chef Hugue Dufour announced plans to serve horse tartare at M. Wells Dinette, his restaurant inside MoMA PS1. Dufour is a French Canadian who cooked plenty of horse when he trained in Montreal, a place with no taboos on horse consumption.
Two weeks after releasing his menu, Dufour pulled horse from it, after a flurry of complaints from animal rights activists and horse lovers everywhere.
“We get tired of beef-chicken-pork all the time and we assume diners do, too,” said Dufour in a statement. “Whatever else horses are – draft animals, companions, transport – their meat is also delicious and affordable… Nevertheless, scandalizing animal lovers is not what we want to be famous for. It was certainly not our intent to insult American culture.”
But McAndrews says he’s not the least bit concerned about protests or boycotts. “There’s too much meddling,” he argues. “If you’re serving something and it’s not doing well, that’s when you don’t serve it anymore. Not because you get letters about it.”
Meanwhile, award-winning chef Marc Vetri enjoyed a horse filet mignon this week in Montreal. In fact, the horse that he ate was raised right here in Pennsylvania and, presumably, exported to Canada for slaughter.
As the Inquirer has previously reported: “Pennsylvania is home to the largest livestock auction in the East – in New Holland, Lancaster County – one that sends hundreds of horses to slaughter in Quebec, Canada each year… Pennsylvania provides an ample supply of slaughter-bound horses: race track losers, spent brood mares and washed up Amish buggy and plow horses.”
“I ate horse in Montreal from Lancaster,” Vetri wrote me in an email. “Figure that one out!” Here is a photo via Vetri’s Instagram of the unlucky animal on his plate:
“[I’d] love to serve it,” Vetri told me. “Seriously, who decided what animals to eat and not to eat? Is a horse better than a cow or a rabbit? Really don’t get all the fuss.”
Additional Reading via The Philly Post: “What’s Wrong With Eating Horse Meat?“
[Top Photo: Wikimedia Commons]