What does a horseburger taste like? We find out
Like everyone in Europe I was appalled to hear illegal, untraceable, and potentially unsafe horsemeat had entered the food chain.
And like every editorial office around the country the Advertiser and Review newsroom was full of chatter the morning after the story broke including various jokes.
But putting the scandal aside we asked what was wrong with eating horse?
When Russell Proctor, landlord of The George Inn, Tiffield, was asked by regulars jokingly how much horse was in their burgers, the same question occurred to him.
To start with it should be said Mr Proctor is 100 per cent confident there is no horse in his beefburgers. Being a customer of Radmore Farm in Litchborough he knows full well what is making it to his serving plates.
But in an effort to turn the tables on his regulars, Mr Proctor announced he would be sourcing some horsemeat and would serve it up to any customer who wanted to try it.
So you can imagine my editor’s reaction when he heard and I was duly ‘volunteered’ for a taste test.
On Monday this week I travelled to The George to see what the fuss was all about.
Mr Proctor said: “It started with a bit of banter over the bar. Some of the regulars were asking how much horse we put in our beefburgers.
“So I decided to turn the tables a little bit and said I’d get some horsemeat in and make some burgers.
“We had a few jokes. We had three types of burger, a plain Red Rum, a Shergar with cheese, and a Nijinski with cheese and bacon. Someone asked for some beefradish sauce for his Red Rum, another person said there shouldn’t be any meat in the Shergar because he went missing.
“We did between 60 and 70 meals last Friday and Saturday and probably about a third were new customers. One couple travelled from London, admittedly they were in the area for something else, but they’d heard what was happening and decided to seek us out. We had people from Wellingborough and Northampton and it did attract far more people than we’d expected.”
“Out of all of those joking with me, they all tried some and they did enjoy it.”
As he cooks me up a Red Rum, Mr Proctor explains his research has shown horsemeat is less fatty that beef, and the fats it does contain are the healthier unsaturated kind.
The preparation is little different, although Mr Proctor explains horsemeat is stickier than beef, but once it is cooked you can’t tell the difference.
So after a few pictures it was time for me to chow down.
My first impression was underwhelming. I suppose the expectation of eating the ‘forbidden meat’ had lead me to imagine a taste explosion.
But after a few chews I began to notice a slight difference. The only way I could describe it is nuttier. A pleasant mild taste, cleaner and lighter than beef.
I enjoy a different taste sensation. Not everyone likes different, but I for one enjoyed the experience.
You could see why horse was chosen to increase the profits of unscrupulous purveyors of meat. It’s different, but not that different from beef, and could be easily passed off as beef.
So beside the public health implications of the wider scandal, what was the point of this?
For me this shows one entrepreneurial landlord, who like his regulars, doesn’t take life too seriously.
And by the way Mr Proctor thinks ostrich, crocodile and zebras might feature on his menu later this year.