If I'm very still maybe the Prime Minister will not eat me.
I’ve mentioned my husband brought horsemeat back from his recent trip to Russia. As we speak there is a hunk of Seabiscuit sitting in a Ziploc in my fridge. You understand I can’t let this go without further comment.
I probed on the topic this morning.
ME: You say it’s okay to eat horse because they’re not considered pets in your country?
THE RUSSIAN: Yes. My father loved to eat horse. He was from the country, it’s completely normal.
My sister-in-law, herself a Russian, is visiting.
S-in-L: Let me interject. It is not normal — in any country.
The Russian presses on.
TR: The native tribes, like Tartars and Bashkirs, they breed horses. They are not pets. They are productive. Like reindeer for people in far north. The people have nothing else, so they eat them.
ME: But those are Tartars. You said your dad ate horse. Your dad wasn’t a Tartar.
TR: No, but if a horse is getting older and is going to die, the village people don’t just throw it away, or put it under the ground. There is no horse cemetery, so what do you do? It is meat, for eating. This is a normal circumstance.
I am struck by my husband’s concept of “normal.”
ME: So your dad killed and ate old horses in the village.
TR: No. Not kill. They would call a special guy. They call Vasily –
ME: Vasily was the village horse killer?
TR: For example. Maybe his name was Vasily. Maybe you need an animal killed. You say, “Vasily, my boar Boris is old, we need to kill him—“
ME: Who’s Boris the Boar? What about the horse?
TR: Vasily kills many things. The horse, the pork. Whatever.
ME: So what’s the horse’s name?
TR: I don’t know. Sultan. The horse’s name is Sultan.
ME: I wonder if the Tartars named their horses?
TR: No. I told you, for Tartars the horse is like reindeer.
ME: You do know reindeer have names.
TR: What you talking about?
ME: Uh, Rudolph?
As usual, the Russian deals with my superior sense of logic by ignoring me.
TR: So you call Vasily, you say Vasily, Sultan is getting older. Vasily knows the animal, he knows all the animals of the village. He understands what to do.
ME: So Vasily comes to your house and kills the horse.
TR: The word is not kill exactly. Different translation. Word is closer to hit. [Makes clubbing gestures.]
ME: You hit the horse, you don’t kill it?
TR: Not literally. It is not like there is guy standing with a stick hitting the horse.
ME: OK, the horse is hit. Then what?
TR: You prepare it. There are lots of ways. The meat is very, very lean so not good for frying. Best for smoking, or making soup. Or maybe cooking — very long, very slow.
I picture my husband merrily slicing up horse for soup stock. Tossing in carrots and onions, perhaps a bouquet garnis. I am also flashing back to 1974 and remembering trail rides at camp with my beloved Welsh pony Sherman.
I need to go wash my brain and hide the crock pot from The Russian.
Image via Daily Mail