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Breaking taboo – holy cows and horses

Breaking taboos is easiest when one does it unknowingly and accords ex-post facto sanction to the blasphemous act. Such as when I began eating Russian mutton after arrival in Moscow in 1975 and thought I had graduated from lamb to sheep — until I discovered in a chance remark that I was all along eating beef. 

From then onward, once the taboo was broken, it was easy to move on to goats, horses, bear, snakes and so on — until in a dim-lit Korean parlor in Seoul years later, I cried halt in sheer despair when served with dog meat. 
Actually, one develops a taste for horse meat, especially as lasagne. Suffice to say, it is amusing to watch all this fury on the part of Old Europeans that they broke a taboo. 
It all began in mid-January when in Ireland someone discovered that supermarkets were selling horse meat as beef. Since then, the horse-meat scandal has spread to Britain, France and Sweden and most Europeans realise they were eating horse meat instead of beef.
Like our beliefs over Holy Cow, Christian virtues are attached to horse — a stately, noble, glorious animal that somehow cannot be reduced to the stuff of meat even in dreams. Most Europeans accord to horse the status of a pet and hold beliefs about animal spirits that must not be offended.  
Anyway, civilized outrage followed — although, no burning of buses, beating up policemen or self-immolation, etc. By the way, Brits are extremely orthodox (like the North Indian Hindu) and do not eat horse meat, while the French are more laid back — like, say, the Malayali. 
But the unkindest cut of all is that it now transpires that what the Europeans were told about as horse meat wasn’t even horse meat, after all. For, they were eating donkey meat already.
How easily taboos get successively broken when it happens unknowingly! But, how did it happen? A simple human tale of avarice, actually. 
Romania banned horse carts that used to be the common mode of transportation in that country, which in turn sent “hundreds of thousands” of horses to the abattoir that slaughters horses and cattle. Whereupon, some enterprising fellow in the New European country which is just about discovering the charms of the common European market, thought up an ingenuous idea. The rest, as they say, is history. It is all here

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4 Responses

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  1. Jagdish Dubey says

    Ask Jug Suraiya. Years ago he had written about the delicacies emperor of China was serving his guests. made from maggots that were harvested from camp feces.

  2. bind_ku says

    There is no christian virtue attached to horses. Please get your facts right. Most of the European people do not mind eating horse meat, the problem is that they were sold ‘cheap’ horse meat instead of Beef. British are generally offended because it reminds them of the great famine when the people were forced to eat horse meat.

    Please at least read BBC or CNN news before blogging anything absurd just for the sake of an argument!

  3. seby m p says


  4. Cynic says

    Nicely written piece.

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