horse: it’s what’s for dinner?

This whole horse meat scandal in the UK made me ask two questions:

  1. Couldn’t anybody tell?
  2. Didn’t anybody throw up?

I grew up in a house where we ate pretty basically, not because of finances but because my dad had (still has) a fairly small range of food that he’s willing to eat. We never ate fish aside from tuna in the can, and otherwise stuck to chicken, cow, and pig for our meats (and even there, never anything like organ meat or tongue). My mom would get her shrimp fix from her favorite Chinese restaurant once a week or so while my dad and I had ham sandwiches or the like. A couple of years after college, though, I spent just shy of two years in the Persian/Arabian Gulf region, where lamb is ubiquitous, much more common than beef, and it was unavoidable that I would encounter it. Now, as an adult I wish I could say I have an iron stomach, and the fact is that there’s very little that comes off a plant that I would just refuse to eat; obviously I like some things and dislike others, but I can at least keep them all down. Fish, too; I don’t care for much shellfish apart from crab but I can at least eat them. When it comes to unfamiliar kinds of meat, though, based on my experience trying lamb I’m pretty sure any red meat other than beef would come right back up. I just couldn’t get used to the taste; I could maybe get a bite down but no more than that without feeling nauseous. I got pretty good at pretending to be a vegetarian when I got invited to dinner parties, or taking a little bit of lamb and hiding it somewhere on my plate, but I never acclimated to eating it; I didn’t see the point, in my mid-20s, of forcing myself to tolerate something I clearly didn’t enjoy to the point that it made me wretch to taste it. By the time I got invited to events where we were being served goat and camel, I knew to just avoid the big platter of mystery meat in the center of the table and stick to the other stuff that was being served.

Now that I’m back in America I get a little tinge of fear every time we get invited to a dinner party that I’m going to show up for lamb chops and have to figure out how to pretend to eat them, but it never seems to happen. But my experience with that first “different” meat was so awful that I just plain refuse to try anything but pork or beef; I won’t eat bison meat no matter how many times somebody tells me it’s just like beef BUT BETTER, for example.

So what I’m curious about is: what’s the most “exotic” (and I know that’s a horrible word but hopefully you get what I mean) meat you’ve (assuming there’s any “you” out there reading this) ever eaten? Or are you like me and can’t stomach any meat that you didn’t eat as a kid?

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