Pistoia is a stunningly beautiful Tuscan city. It has a market square still populated by the little stalls that unfold into stores with marble counters, much like motorized vans are turned into market stalls today. Clever. For medieval people I mean. If you’re planning a Tuscan vacation, you should see Pistoia.
You might look at the title of this post and wonder what the hell has gotten into me that I’m talking about Pistoia. Well, I’m going to tell you, and you must promise to keep this secret, but Pistoia, for all its religious monuments, frescoes, and other artifacts of an age when immense beauty was part of building a city, has a butcher shop entirely devoted to selling you horse meat to eat. Imagine.
I am bringing this to your attention because of the current horse meat controversy. You’ve read about it I’m sure. Horse meat has turned up in EU hamburgers. People are outraged. They are seeing red over being deceived into eating poor Trigger, or whatever former Triple crown winner thus consumed turns their collective stomachs.
(Another tenuous connection: We [the people] are not nearly as concerned over eating scientist-rendered genetically modified frankenmeat as we are over eating horse, which even true blue Americans ate gleefully before the 1950s. Humongous corporations have spent millions to convince us that telling us what’s in our burgers is absolutely wrong, and the world economy will collapse from overly-expensive food if they were to be forced to honestly label their “food” and we didn’t buy the crap because of it.)
Ok, so here’s what we know of the controversy. Romanians, embarrassed about their medieval appearances, pass a law disallowing horse-drawn buggies on the highways. Horses become fairly useless to farmers and other people who use them for draft animals to transport their goods to the market, so the market value of a horse falls like a rock.
Romanians butcher and eat horses. With an oversupply of horse flesh, they willingly sell it to anyone who shows an interest. The French company who supplies the meat to other companies to make it into whatever ready-to-eat crap food the people in the UK will tolerate, happily supplies cheap meat, which happens to contain horse because horse meat makes it real cheap. They claim not to know how it got in there.
Ah, the realities of global food marketing! Provenience is nothing! Just eat it, you mangy piece-of-crap consumer!
You see, there is a connection here. When you rely on humongous corporations whose main concern is to make ever more money to satisfy their shareholders and pay their CEO millions and millions, you have to know that they will stop at nothing to sell you something cheap (because, ahem, you love cheap, admit it!). GMO modified to their (secret) specifications, horse standing in place for beef, it’s all part of the same thing. Those corporations are annoyed as hell that you want to know what you’re putting in your mouth, because it’s damn sure to cut into their profits. They’ll spend billions to increase your food ignorance, because that’s a drop in the enormous bucket labeled “profit” to them.
Now, I have to report that I have a horse in this race, so to speak. I like horse meat. I like asino too. I’ve even had puledro, colt. I bought it from a real butcher in Aulla. He knew the rancher. He described the chop like a horny man describes the leg of an outrageously sexy dancer. I ate it. It was good.
Go ahead and hate me. But with small butchers you have a choice. With Monsanto you’re gonna get it crammed down your throat. Perhaps it’s time to downsize. Perhaps it’s time to care for others around us, and care what we put in our mouths. And perhaps it’s time to consider a smaller but exquisite piece of perfect meat from a butcher who cares over paying the same price for an enormous slab of cheap mystery “meat”. Just sayin’.