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You ate what??

November 26, 2010

As we all know, in different parts of the world, it is acceptable to eat things that we as Americans would not consider eating. For example, in certain African countries, they eat “bush meat”, which is anything from Monkey to Tiger and Zebra. In parts of Asia, they eat dogs (and sometimes cats). This is something I have been aware of for some time, but living in an Eastern European country, I did not think there was much risk in running into a different sort of meat than I have had before.

To be sure, people in Ukraine eat things I don’t like. There are few salads here that are not doused in mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is even put on pizza. People eat ketchup on bread and pasta. Sour cream is another thing that is extremely common. Thing is, these particular foods are also commonly eaten in the U.S. My not eating them is a matter of my own taste, not societal standards.

But on Wednesday, well, I experienced something I did not expect – a “new” kind of meat. I got a text message from a friend that invited me for “horse meat, Russian wine, and swiss chocolate.”  I honestly thought she had mis-translated something. I thought “Horse? No, that cannot be.”

It was.

When I met up with her, she said she was in earnest, that indeed, we were to eat horse meat. Well….there was no backing out then, was there? I could not very well say “Well, I don’t think so” and go on my merry way. Besides, I wanted to spend time with these two women, who have started to “adopt” me and have been very kind to me. And I had bread and wine in my bag for them. So I went.

We got there, and Julia cut up what turned out to be horse “kovbasa”, or sausage. Well, at least it was not a steak. We got the other items ready, then Anna was called away for a work call. While she was on her call, Julia offered me some of the sausage. I declined, because (1) I wanted Anna to see that I actually did try this horse meat in case I could only eat one piece and (2) truth be told, I was still working my way up to trying it. I had to reconcile myself to eating something that, for my whole life, I have associated with things other than food.

I did end up eating some. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t like it. I really appreciate the opportunity to try it, but it is just not my cup of tea. I gave it a chance, I really did. I had two pieces. But besides being chewy (chew, chew, chew, chew, chew) it had a strange taste. But again, it was so generous of Anna and Julia to include me that I tried to be diplomatic in my assessment to them. As they have started reading my blog, they know the truth now. I just hope I don’t offend them that I did not like it.

The Armenian wine, on the other hand, was really nice. As were the Swiss chocolates.

So now I have another meat to add to the list of those that I have tried. That list now includes:

Standards in the US:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Beef

Non-US standard:

  • Lamb
  • Rabbit
  • Pheasant
  • Deer
  • Moose
  • Goat
  • Horse

These are the ones that come to mind when doing an inventory. This gets harder to do, I notice, the further along in life I go. The goat I had in India and it was really good. The pheasant and rabbit I had in France.

So…I may be a picky eater, but I do remain open to new cross-cultural experiences…I may not always like them, but I (nearly) always try. I still just can’t do salo. Sorry Ukraine.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Heidi permalink
    November 26, 2010 7:33 am

    I really want to try horse meat. According to my husband they eat it here, not often, but they do. I want to try it. I also want to try turtle (as in turtle soup) and someday back in the US I am going to find someone to fry me up some squirrel…

    I have eaten bbq’d grasshoppers (had to try them, won’t do it again,) frog legs, octopus, rabbit, ostrich, elk, and bear ( all in the US. ) We are planning on raising rabbits (giant ones), chickens, and goats for our meat… yum!

    I would have had to been brave in your shoes to try the wine. I just can’t seem to like red wine, so if it had been red, I would have been wary to try it. 😀

  2. Srah Eastburn permalink
    November 26, 2010 10:43 am

    Karin- proud of you for giving it a shot but must say that you being a up north gal in the midwest I would have figured that rabbit, deer, pheasant and lamb would have been included in your, perhaps not daily or even weekly but at least bi-monthly, diet. It sure was in mine…usually weekly. Don’t forget buffalo…gaining popularity and is so tasty.

  3. Mom permalink
    November 26, 2010 1:51 pm

    From Mom and Krista:

    Sorry, we rode too many horses in our lives to consider eating one. In the old days they went to the “glue factory” and then mixed in hamburger (and we didn’t know it!) or dog food. (At least we have a few food regulations in the U.S. now.)

    So, enjoy your horse meat people. And actually, deer meat IS a standard in the U.S., just not a regular item in urban areas. But there are enough hunters that most Americans have experienced it on their tables. (Too wild and dry for my taste, but I cook it.)

    Krista says: I give you credit for being considerate enough to try it as I wouldn’t have even tried it.

    All this being said, if one is starving, all bets are off.

  4. November 27, 2010 1:37 am

    Hey Sara! Nope, they were not regular meats in my diet. My dad hunted deer up until a couple of years ago but I did not eat it often. I did not havae pheasant until I went to France, and have not had it in the U.S. at all! And since my mom does not lamb, I only ate it as an adult, and generally in restaurants, on a rare occasion. I do enjoy lamb though.

    I don’t think I’ve had buffalo…not that I recall, anyway. It is a nice lean meat, though so is moose.

    Mom and Krista – I had to try it. I mean, they invited me. As the post says, I really had to work myself up to it because I too associate horses with riding memories.

    I would not consider deer meat standard in the U.S. It is accepted but not available everywhere, thus not a standard.

  5. Anna Lvova permalink
    November 28, 2010 9:00 pm

    it’s again interesting! investigations about meat- super! You know i have never read any blogs before, it’s really readable, you write well.

  6. Julia permalink
    November 29, 2010 12:46 pm

    :-))) Oh, how I’ve been chuckled when I read this article. Our experience with a horse was very funny. Maybe, next time we’ll try donkey meat? 😉 :-)))

  7. December 6, 2010 7:20 am

    MMM… yum, yum. Horse meat – good ol’ Tartar steak. A delacacy only known to slavics… 😉

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