Eating Seabiscuit in Sicily

September 24 , 2010

My butcher’s selling something new, something grim.  It looks disturbingly like  Seabiscuit.

Ad for horse meat in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

I feel alone, among strangers.

Nearby Catania, the city under Etna, has long feasted on horse. They grill it over red-hot coals, and turn it into a great big horse-burger.

Do you believe in following local customs when you’re in foreign lands?

I’m repulsed, but curious.

Should I? Would you?


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15 comments to Eating Seabiscuit in Sicily

  • Well, I try to avoid it but would not be opposed to trying it if it were served to me in someone’s home. It is very common here in Northern Italy & appears frequently on the menus in all forms, including pony!


  • my daughter would be horrified…I am a bit too. I could understand if there was no other meat but not now adays.

  • Poor Seabiscuit. 🙁 Even though I’ve heard that horse meat is supposed to be delicious, I don’t think I’d have it in me to try it. I’m too much of an animal lover, and would think it would akin to eating my dog. I do eat meat, and often try not to think about the process that occurs before the meat is carefully packaged for me at the store. However, abuse to an animal for it’s killed off is not in my favor. Everything deserves respect, including our food-to-be. I’d rather think that I was eating a happy animal that was well cared for and fed; than an animal that was push around by a bulldozer, was lame, and sickly. It is important for everyone to know where our food comes from, and at least in Italy, you know that it’s from close to home. 🙂

  • Looks like you’ve really peaked a controversial one here…… I myself am a little too fond of horses to try it knowingly, but, I’m sure it is probably quite good. Their is nothing cuter than a newborn baby calf, and look at what we do to them! I think it is really all in your mind and how you perceive it, for those of us who do eat meat ! Oh, and by the way……Seabiscuit is one of my favorite movies!!

  • John Schinina

    Hi Jann, I love food and meat is my favorite.
    Sum Orientals eat cats,rats and dogs, South Ameri-
    cans like an occasional Monkey Brain,raw if possi-
    ble,New Zealanders eat a human when there lucky to
    catch one, and we Americans are known to try it all
    from insects to what ever, depending on how shek it
    is, so what the hell a Horse Burger once in a while
    shouldn’t HURT. By the way I love Horses and would
    not enjoy eating them, not to say I don’t like pigs
    cows,goats,lamb,and chicken, I must say this blog
    is putting me into a vegaterian mode. Love your
    email, John Schinina

  • joe g.

    What timing, we were just in Euro Spin in Modica looking for a piece of Lamb and this nice girl behind the counter got exactly what we wanted. She then proceded to show us another cut of meat that was a little redder and darker. We really couldn’t understand what the name was so in a last minute attempt to communicate with us she makes this perfect impression of a horse sound. Funny we all laughed Personally I used to watch Mr. Ed all the time so we passed, stick to fish and lamb etc.. Always an adventure!!!!

  • We, who are online, are a privileged lot, elevating gluttony to a sport, gourmandizing to an art; with our markets full of delicacies from all corners of the earth while even one in five Americans are malnourished and hunger/poverty is a global socio-economic policy. Corporate food production (GMOs), growing massive amounts of food for pigs and cows which require deforestation to graze or environmental disasters called feed lots so that entitled people can have their pork and veal and hamburgers…it’s mind boggling! We’re so afraid to be politically incorrect by criticizing others (except for our president who its become fashionable to hate), but to trivialize or make jolly what we humans do to animals (and our own species!) ignores the crisis of having 7 billion people trying to live on this little blue planet. But, to answer your question: since we’re not talking eating to survive (in which case people can justify even cannibalism), and since we are what we eat…you decide! Myself, I’d go back to your pastry shop!

  • Cathy

    On our trip last year, basically our first night in Italy..after travelling since early morning Atlantic Canada time, till like 7-8pm Italy time—-so we were very very very tired—-we finally landed in Mira, outside Venice. A beautiful town!! We went to supper with the 63 high school students to a Pizzaria, one of the men ended up ordering a pizza with horsemeat….. well you can only imagine the reaction of North American teens ….one girl ended up in the washroom being sick by the end of it…although that could have been more exhaustion than anything… Myself….well, I’m usually “game” for anything but would have a hard time wrapping my head around horsemeat as I would dogmeat… Cannot give a good reason though and would not criticize others for enjoying it..

  • Giovanni

    Jann, I don’t like to brag, but I’ve had MUCH worse things in my mouth! I bet if you were on a desert island with Seabiscuit or Secretariat, for that matter, sirloin horse tips would start to look really good. Perhaps it is my 50% Sicilian blood running through my veins, but I fail to see the distinctions humans make on protein sources. It’s all good! Bon Appetit. (It’s not like their freaking cannibals, or something!)

  • Josephine

    It’s a question of what you’re used to. We eat lambs,goats,calfs,steers, chickens,rabbits,everything,but horse meat and it doesn’t bother us because it’s normal fare. In the northern countries they eat reindeers and elks and in China they eat dogs. I admit that when I was in Sicily,I couldn’t get myself to try the horse meat,no matter how delicious they said it was. It all boils down to mind over matter.

  • No I would not eat it knowingly, as we have had a horse as a pet, but I understand from others that it is delicious.

  • Many years ago, when my French was minimal, I was very much enjoying a meat fondue at my Quebecois in-laws until I caught on to their snickering (not to say whinnying) and the odd mention of “cheval” in the conversation. My husband finally admitted to me that we were eating horse meat. I have to say it was very tender and flavourful. I wouldn’t buy it myself, but if it was served to me in a foreign land (such as my in-laws’ house!) I would eat it.

    “Eating Seabiscuit”–very funny! When I first saw the title I thought you must be referring to some Sicilian pastry as you couldn’t possibly mean the horse.

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