Tuesday, 12 February 2013

One Man's Meat....

We are total carnivores, and we love our meat. Also, being agnostics to the core, we are not fussy about what meat is `kosher’ and what is not. The juicy beef steaks at Arthur’s Theme, or the succulent raan at Madhouse Grill, or even the light as fluff ham-n-cheese sandwiches that the Turf Club serves have all been the staple of many a pleasant evening – washed down, of course, with the single malt of choice. 

Most Hindus that I know are of the `take it or leave it’ variety, meaning the strictures against beef are either to be winked at, or shrugged off. However, Muslims are, by and large, more particular about what is `halaal’ and what is not. Major Khan from my Unit, I noticed, was a vegetarian at Officers’ Mess parties, while Mrs Khan served the most delightful biryani and yakhni when you visited their home. However, once I made Major Khan responsible for all non-veg purchases that came to the Mess, they turned out to be as carnivorous as the rest of us!

I can understand the vegan outlook - but favouring one meat over the other makes less sense. I guess it's a case of one man's meat being the other man's poison..

I recall an incident when we were once settling down to a lazy lunch at Lavasa, and our order for bacon sandwiches was erroneously delivered to the next table where a Muslim family huddled together. Before they realised it, their kids had wolfed it down with amazing alacrity and ravenous relish! When the shit hit the fan, the man was apoplectic with rage, and the Restaurant Manager was lucky to survive the ordeal unscathed – all whilst we bemusedly sipped our Budweisers, wondering what the fuss was all about.

The horsemeat scandal that has hit UK, France and Sweden quite understandably has me in splits. Imagine buying a frozen beef burger or beef lasagne or spaghetti bolognaise from Tesco’s and finding that it’s really horsemeat (if you’re lucky) or mule meat (if you’re not that lucky) or donkey meat (if you’re really unlucky)! Are these meats `halaal’ or `kosher’? Some burgers also had traces (30% actually, so it’s more than traces) of pig DNA – which would have Jews and Muslims really up in arms!

The problem apparently lies in the Supply Chain. The meat comes from Eastern Europe. Six years ago, all horse or donkey driven traffic was banned in Romania. The law is being implemented only now, which has led to a host of these poor animals being led to the slaughter house – and thereon into Tesco’s and other retail stores.

Ok, so you love beef burgers. Would you eat a burger willingly knowing if it contained horse/mule/donkey meat? Assuming it tastes just as good? Is it then just a mental block? Nagas relish dog meat, and black dogs are a special delicacy – so why do we turn our noses up at the very thought? I have personally seen them use live (yes, live!) red ants as garnish, much as we use hara dhania!

What they eat in China is enough to turn the strongest of stomachs. My only problem in the two weeks that I spent in China was the non availability of Chinese food! The entire menu of our Mainland China was totally alien to them - and Shezwan was not, as we know it, spicy, but just another province in China! Catch Andrew Zimmern wolfing down the most bizarre of foods on his TV program of the same name – it will make horsemeat seem like an Enid Blyton tea party!

I guess we haven’t heard the end of the scandal. Meanwhile, life trudges on. And the Zinger Burger at KFC, followed by a softy at McDonald’s continues to be my idea of bliss. Horses for courses, did you say?


  1. If Horses were wishes beggars would fly!

  2. I guess Tesco just took the expression "I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse" too literally!