WHILE the rest of Europe panics about traces in their burgers, several Spanish chefs are serving up whole slabs of horse meat as a national delicacy.
The Olive Press has discovered that a number of the country’s top Michelin-starred chefs are firm favourites of the succulent meat.
“Acceptance of food has to do with cultural issues,” claimed Basque chef Andoni Aduriz, owner of two Michelin star restaurant, Mugaritz.
He believes the fuss surrounding the meat is due to cultural prejudice, rather than its taste or concerns about public health.
Another firm fan of horse meat, Nacho Manzano, owner of two Michelin starred Casa Marcial restaurant in Arriondas, prepares a very successful sautéed horse steak twinned with hazelnut oil.
The celebrated chef, who also cooks a mean braised foal with garlic, explained: “I really like the meat, both in its texture, flavour and quality.
“It is available in many local butchers and is very versatile. I use it quite a lot.”
Locally, Sevilla restaurant Fogon de Lena offers foal cooked ‘a la piedra’, while in Burgos 24 de la Paloma prefers to serve the meat as a burger-like tapa or steak tartar.
The Burger Lab in Madrid and Pepito Burger in Vigo also serve ‘foal hamburgers’.
Going one step further, chef Saul Gomez has added raw horse meat to his menu in the form of Japanese dish, horse tataki, reporting that clients accepted the dish ‘without any problems’.
But, it is not just leading chefs, who like the meat.
One company in Madrid, Carnes Carrasquilla is doing a roaring trade selling a range of different horse cuts from 8.99 to 26.99 per kilo.
According to the government, the meat is becoming more popular.
The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that horse meat sales have risen from 11,200 tonnes in 2011 to 12,900 tonnes in 2012.
Much of this rise is due to the recession with horse meat costing around half the price of beef.