This week I did it, I managed to get hold of some meat that I’d been trying to get for a few weeks. Lucky I have some patience as it turns out it can be tricky to get your hands on some horse meat here in good old Australia.
Unless of course you live in Perth and have access to the one butcher registered in this country to deal with it, Vince Garreffa, whom Western Australian Agriculture Minister Terry Redman granted final approval to on 30 June 2010 to sell horse meat for human consumption. I’ll note here that horse meat is readily available in many countries.
Why would you eat horse meat? How do you get it? Is it ethical? What does it taste like?
Many questions have been asked, at this stage by myself and my much better looking dining partner for this dish. I’m sure many more will come, in their droves, as well as statements such as: You can’t eat horse, it’s a pet! Which I’ve heard already, but for now I’ll do my best to spell this experience out from my side, of course.
Also, start thinking of all the horse puns you can think of, I had many come to mind, and I naturally think they’re all funny… Must be something about eating Mr Ed that brings it out in me…
I’ll get into that in detail shortly, but first off this week, I’ll wrap up the primal pattern resistance movement series and cover the bend.
This is essentially a bend at the hips, whilst keeping strong and neutral throughout the torso. It can incorporate an element of flexion and extension at the knees. Just as the squat is primarily moved through the knee joints with critical movement through the ankles and secondary movement through the hips, this is primarily through the hip joint.
The dead lift, which I have mentioned earlier this year involving my own goals leading up to Xmas, is generally the benchmark movement of the bend. However as with the chin up last week, this can be a difficult movement for beginners for reasons other than raw strength, with two of the most common being flexibility at the hip joint and strength through the spinal electors (the muscles that engage to hold neutral spine). Also a reasonable amount of co-ordination is needed for this, especially if doing a dead lift with a barbell. I think one of my friends in particular may know I’m directing this at him…
The dead lift has to be one of my favourite lifts, but for the purposes of keeping this simple, for now, I’ll pull back on that and run through what is essentially half of that movement. Perhaps I’ll attack the big lift at a later point this year, as it can be assured that I’ll be doing plenty myself (check out my training videos to have a look at my progress).
Today we’ll go through a partial dead lift, the top part that challenges the bend pattern.
The reasons we train through this pattern are numerous and endless really. Most people these days spend a lot of their days sitting and/or doing things in front of their bodies. This can cause the posterior chain- essentially the musculature of the posterior aspect of the body; back, gluts, hamstrings- to become weak and just plain pathetic. This results in a general lack of muscular size, activation and massive strength imbalances throughout the body. Too much flexion and not enough extension, resulting in ‘bad backs’, ‘constant back pain’ and other commonly heard ailments.
Have a look at Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man for an example, and you’ll note how upright and in neutral he is. Not flexed forward like most of us spend our days doing, remember the hunched over, round shouldered muppet I mentioned last week… The Vitruvian Man however has a strong posterior chain and a balanced body. Compare these two pictures:
Training and strengthening the posterior chain is vital to the health of our spines and pelvis at the very least, and they are two skeletal assets we could all do with being as strong and stable as possible hey… As well as getting a strong and well defined shape through your back, gluts and hamstrings. There goes those buns n thighs again ladies…
So, let’s get bending! The photos attached have all specific points.
And an incorrect bend:
Ok, now back to horse meat. This week I ate some. I got it from the butcher, I cooked it and I ate it, with my mouth. Guess what? It was yum!
What do you think about that? I’m pretty sure some people have a problem with it. In fact I know that. One of my friends, when I mentioned I thought I might have some lined up said: “I don’t agree with that and I won’t be reading that blog post”. Fair enough, horses for courses and that…
However if I may interject, just in case you have made it this far and are not sure if you should carry on, let me say that this meat was first-rate. I wouldn’t eat it every day, but nor would I anything. However it was a tasty deep red meat not too dissimilar to that of our much eaten beef, and to those that have tried venison and kangaroo. It was delectable.
So why should it be a problem to eat it? It’s not as though it tastes repulsive. Horses aren’t an endangered species. Nor are they full of malicious bacteria or some strange equine disease that will make us sick and turn us into human flesh eating zombies. The kind that will eat any old meat because we have an insatiable blood lust and must kill and eat anything that moves. No, I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. It hasn’t to me thus far anyway.
Of course I can answer this myself. It’s because horses are lovely animals, that can be pets, and work the fields and stations, help us farm and muster livestock for food (note: horse are livestock, are they not..?), and race around a track for our, mostly idiot, pleasure, amongst other things.
Hmmm, that makes me think though; let’s take another animal, one more commonly farmed for meat for human consumption, say beef, a cow. Why is this ok to eat, on a gigantic scale? (Aside from a vast number of vegetarians worldwide and the religion of Hinduism of course).
Now from my limited understanding of Hinduism and my hasty research, I am going generalise that these people, wherever in the world they may be, do not eat beef. The cow is a scared animal. This means that somewhere in the vicinity of 6 billion people around the globe (that’s a fair few), do not eat beef. Yet most of ‘us’ seem to find it very tasty indeed and have not one third of a problem with it, in fact get me some now! Isn’t it good…??
Yet we like to get on our, ahem, high horse about exactly that; horse, and say it should not be done. Do not eat horse, it’s wrong, but be a good man and slaughter me up some beef would you and don’t spare the horses? Now that’s a good chap.
I disagree with that thought process entirely! A horse is an animal, just like sheep, just like cattle. Yes it is a pet and all those other things, but it’s also a source of sustenance, full of protein and rich in iron. Look at horse numbers worldwide, there’s a lot. Look at the amount of starving or near starving people world wide… I’m seeing a handy little connection here… And in all seriousness, why not?
It certainly does not mean that we should all go out and eat our beloved pet Phar Lap. Of course not, that would be somewhat bizarre and twisted. However I do believe that if an animal is to die, be it for meat or other and natural causes, then as long as it’s safe to eat, it should be respected and eaten. This goes for your more ‘standard’ animal as well, there’s a lot of meat on one cattle beast, get into it!
For me this also goes across species from horse to things like cattle and pig. There is plenty of the world’s population starving and there are plenty that don’t eat these animals, if there is a cross over then solve the problem, have a feed and move on. Understandably religious and other beliefs come into play here, but my take home question is this: If it’s ok to kill and eat one animal for food, then why not another?
Remember, we need animal protein for survival and optimal health and nutrition. Why? I’ll get into this into more depth in the coming weeks.
Wow, that was a rant… As you can see I do feel strongly about it. If it is good enough to kill and eat one species of animal then why are others so taboo? As long as something isn’t endangered, why is it off limits? I joked about pandas a couple of weeks ago, but if those little guys were in absolute abundance, you bet I’d try some of their meat, so long as the whole animal was being used. They are cute but so was my pet lamb Rufus. I didn’t eat him, but, like a large number of us, I do eat lamb. If I stick to most people’s views on Horse and animals like lamb for these taboo reasons, then I shouldn’t eat lamb, as I once had one as a pet. Preposterous.
What’s the difference? Clearly there is none to the many people around the globe that eat horse meat, covering many countries and continents. A large number of which is exported from right here in Australia, so someone’s ok with it…
In fact, as of June 2011 the Australian Government Department Of Agriculture, Fisheries And Forestry state:The export of horsemeat began in the 1970s. According to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), the largest export volume was 6,137 tonnes in 1998/99, which was valued at $26.4 million, with more than half exported to Japan. In 2006/07 2,320 tonnes of horsemeat was exported to 14 countries with the majority going to Russia (48%), Switzerland (15%), Belgium (14%) and France (11%). The total value of exports in 2006/07 was $10.3 million. In fact according to British Agriculture website in 2009, worldwide the rates of horse meat production levels in Tons/year were around 500,000 from the following countries alone: Mexico, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Poland, Italy, Romania, Chile, France, Uruguay, Senegal, Columbia and Spain.
Ok, so how about I tell you about this specific meal, the one in which I cooked and ate some horse sirloin. I have to tell you, I had a ridiculous afternoon when I picked it up. I had a text from Kristy at The Butcher And The Chef the day before saying the horse I ordered was being flown in from Perth the next day. I became excited and nervous at the same time.
On the day I had texts from my flatmate while I was at work to inform me my (9th story) bedroom was flooding from Sydney’s intense rain storm. Go figure, you’d think being 9 levels above the ground would prevent this. Apparently not. So I went home later that day to survey the damage, and sort it out somehow so I could run down to the butcher and see if the horse meat was there. Kristy was short on time and wasn’t too sure on specific recipes, but the one piece of advice was not to have it raw, as a Horse Tartare like the French sometimes do, or sashimi like the Japanese do, as this meat has been frozen, just try frying like beef.
Done. Once I’d managed the immense water damage and then proceeded to leave every, now wet, towel from our flat in the back of a Sydney Taxi, some recipes were searched. However I didn’t want to add sauce or put in some sort of casserole or dish that was going to take away from the real taste of the meat. So some kumara (sweet potato) and baby carrots were seasoned and roasted, some baby zucchini and beans were sautéed and while ‘Wild Horses’by The Rolling Stones played, I got the pan hot and very quickly fried these two thin cuts of sirloin.
Some photos taken and whatever small nerves floating around taken care of with a glass of (research recommended) French vino, the dish was enjoyed and then mulled over with the ironically themed My Lovely Horsefrom a Father Tedepisode (definitely check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzYzVMcgWhg ) to stimulate the thought process.
The general consensus was that the ends of each cut were slightly tough, but the rest was tender, juicy and quite delicious. It has the flavours and familiarity of beef, while also having some rich, more gamey parallel to venison and kangaroo, with an added element of sweetness to it. The overwhelming description that came from the wine merchant pre-cooking fell somewhat short, but I think perhaps a fillet, as with beef in my opinion, would result in an even more flavoursome and enjoyable steak. I liked it and can see no reason why I wouldn’t eat this regularly if it were readily available.
Yes it’s taboo, but that’s exactly the point, it’s only taboo. Not unhealthy, not illegal (which is just institutionalised taboo with things like this really isn’t it?). It makes some people uncomfortable, some of the same people that gladly chomp down on any number of other animal meats regularly and therefore in my opinion, display blatant hypocrisy in their views towards horse meat. We’ve spoken about this before; it’s called the food chain. We made it to the top a while ago now, its natures natural course, enjoy it.
Well, I currently sit on my couch pondering this and what I’ll eat for dinner tonight. It looks like meat will play a part. However the more pressing thought is have I opened up a can here? Will I cop some abuse or judgement for this? Have I just ranted and forced my meat opinions on people? Or have I enlightened and opened people’s eyes to another option for that no good horse that kicked you off it’s back as a child…. Or am I just flogging a dead horse…
Either way I know I’ve covered a broad range of issues. Just don’t get me started on Kony 2012…
Please, let me know either way. I’m dead keen to hear your take on this issue, horse and otherwise because remember- it’s only March, I’ve got many more to get through and some will very likely follow this trend…
Send me your comments, or go to my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Meat-Mike-Campbell/236677696419727) where I’m going to open discussion on the subject. Let’s chat about it and see what opinions are out there.