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Quandary: Eat the horse or offend the host?

Quandary: Eat the horse or offend the host?

Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 08:38 AM
  #1  
Lisa
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Quandary: Eat the horse or offend the host?

Hello again,

In an earlier posting I mentioned I will be attending a wedding in Paris this coming spring. Being that I have been invited by a personal friend of the groom with family outside of Paris, my lodgings will be provided by my friend's family.

My friend's family live on a farm about 30 minutes from Paris. They have volunteered to host a big dinner at their farm the night before the wedding. I have been informed by Michel (my friend) that the main course of this feast will consist of "cheval" prepared in some classic fashion. I am not generally squeamish about what I eat; however, the thought of eating a horse ( I own my own horse back home)--for some reason--appalls me.

As I will be staying with these people for several days, opting out of this "dinner" isn't really an option. I also understand that this family is renowned for this particular meal. How do I handle this without offending anyone? This is really worrying me...

Lisa (I'm Not)
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 08:41 AM
  #2  
Lisa
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This is the one!
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 08:41 AM
  #3  
k
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I'm sure there will be other things to eat - side dishes like vegetables, potatoes etc. Just eat those and skip the meat. At a "big" dinner, I doubt if people will notice what you are eating anyway, and if they ask, just tell them you don't eat horse. No big deal.

You shouldn't worry so much about appearances. If someone is offended that you won't eat an animal that you have as a pet, I think THEY are the ones with a problem.
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 08:46 AM
  #4  
Belinda
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Andy Rooney aside, and assuming you can't find the old hallow table leg, there is no dog under the table to pass the meat to (although in France there often is!), and you can't hide the cheval in your napkin, stick with the vegetarian routine.

As my Dad used to say: "Cow tongue! No way am I going to eat something that comes from an animal's mouth! Fry me up an egg."
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 08:54 AM
  #5  
aaa
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Actually, cheval doesn't taste terribly different from beef. It really doesn't. I'm sure if someone served it to you and didn't say anything, you wouldn't know. Anyway, it is not rude to decline. However, I strongly suggest you make your preference not to eat horse known NOW. You can write a nice letter and then add that comment towards the end so it appears the purpose of your communication was not solely about the horsemeat issue. You could respectfully decline in that fashion and how can a host or hostess be offended by that? You will have done it in a very amicable fashion and they'll oblige you. In fact, they might just alter the entire menu and/or offer an alternative choice. Don't worry about declining but do so now and, if possible, via letter (not email). The French would rather you enjoy a meal rather than leave the table with a bad impression of what they, as hosts, serve their guests.
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 09:18 AM
  #6  
Mr. Ed
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Try it; you might like it!

Really, this sounds like a rare opportunity. I wouldn't pass it up.
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 10:51 AM
  #7  
Tom
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I really think that you should not attend, or at least not take advantage of this offer for free lodging.

You have already explained that "this family is renowned for this particular meal" and yet you want only to use their free bed and not accept the cultural context of their hospitality.

I don't think this is any different than complaining that you are Catholic and you are afraid that the bed was previously used by some who practiced artificial contraception and you cannot deal with that. Or that you are an Afghani Islamic fundamentalist, and you cannot deal with the fact that women in this home will have their faces uncovered.

Get a hotel. Take Twinkies with you.
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:04 AM
  #8  
Belinda
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Lisa, I would not want to eat a horse either. I stayed at a farm in Italy last year and they killed a pig and served it, and I couldnt eat it either. The thought that it had been alive and happy just an hour before made me squeemish.
You have the right to eat what you want, it is your mouth and stomach after all. Dont apologize for yourself, and politely refuse the main course and eat the vegs.
If it becomes a real problem, just stay at an hotel, or have a talk with the hosts first and explain that you will not eat horse.
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:17 AM
  #9  
yyy
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I don't understand why this has to get into the realm of moralizing. If you don't want to eat something, you don't have to. It could be because you're allergic, or because you just don't like it, or because the thought of it seriously puts you off. You politely decline and eat the rest of the meal.

You're just one guest out of many. It would be different if they were putting on a special feast just for you and you knew in advance that you wouldn't eat the main dish. When you make a dinner party for a lot of people, it's pretty much guaranteed that not all of the guests will like all of the food. I've never been offended because somebody declines the cheese course or somebody else eats the side dishes but not the chicken.
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:27 AM
  #10  
Ellen
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You might end up getting out of this the easy way---by being full! The hosts could very well be serving finger foods, then appetizers, then a pasta. You could take a small portion of the meat and ask for loads of veggies and then fill up on those. Hide some of the meat under the veggies. No need to 'clean your plate'. And besides, you are saving yourself for their amazing dessert! If they make an awe inspiring Cheval, I am sure the pastries are equally outstanding. This is a good one. Please let us know how it works out!
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:27 AM
  #11  
xxx
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Much simpler than you're making it. Just whisper to them and tell them, "no thank you, I'm a little hoarse already."
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:30 AM
  #12  
aaa
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Hello! The horse/hoarse pun on words wouldn't work in French ...........
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:40 AM
  #13  
Ira
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Hi Lisa,
If you are unhappy with "I'm sorry, but I just do not want cheval tonight", you could become a vegitarian or convert to Judaism. (Horse isn't kosher)
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:53 AM
  #14  
Mr. Ed
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Say neigh to cheval!
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:59 AM
  #15  
Julie
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Lisa - I have been riding since I was a child and I would not eat horsemeat even if it meant disapointing my hosts. The other folks who responded gave good advice - if it's a big party, and everyone is eating and drinking, nobody is going to notice what you are eating or not eating. Don't make a big deal out of it - just eat what you like and leave what you don't like. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with eating horsemeat - but I for one will not touch it since I have horses, love them and cherish them.









 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 12:42 PM
  #16  
syrin
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Lisa,

Have you asked Michel what he thinks?

I visited China with a friend and we stayed with her uncle for a few days. They took us to a restaurant and ordered for us. Frankly, I didn't want to eat live fish that had been sliced up (it was still moving when it was brought to the table). My friend put some on both our plates and said that her uncle would be very upset if we didn't try it. I ate it.

On the other hand, if someone joined my family at Christmas, no one would care if they didn't slurp up the lutefisk with the rest of us.




 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 01:37 PM
  #17  
Tom
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Lisa:

Lots of good advice here (except for the "other" Tom whose examples I found to be, quite frankly, ridiculous!). The only thing I would add is the possibility that your friend Michel might be able to serve as some sort of intermediary for you in this issue.

If you are uncomfortable about bringing up the issue with the family yourself, perhaps Michel would be willing to do it for you. Take Syrin's suggestion of approaching Michel a step further and simply inform him of your trepidation. Maybe he will suggest approaching them on his own but if he doesn't then simply ask the favor of him.

Good luck,

Tom B
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 02:37 PM
  #18  
Martha
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I never get the idea of offending someone if you dont want to eat what is served.
If the hosts don't want to offend they should ask the guests what they will not eat, not the other way around, you are the guests afterall.
If I served a domestic animal at my house and my guests didn't want to eat it, I would make a mental note not to re-serve them whatever it was.
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 02:51 PM
  #19  
katie
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Belinda, thanks for the laugh! (fry an egg
Lisa, try what I do in real life...I don't eat RED meat. Fish and chicken are ok, or you could even say only fish.
So many people in the world have food allergies and special diets, I am sure it will be accomodated without any offense. And if it does offend someone, I would not let it bother me. One dish without the horse will mean nothing to these people.
While everyone is chowing down, try singing , very quietly,
A horse is a horse, of course of course,
ta da (forgot the words)
call him Mr ED!
 
Old Jan 2nd, 2003, 02:57 PM
  #20  
Tess
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The best idea yet. Say, oh no thank you I dont eat red meat. They would expect this from Americans anyway and probably chuckle at the thought and not give it a second thought (assuming you are American).
I got quite alot of smirks and raised eyebrows even in this day and age when I would say in Europe, "I dont eat red meat."
It didnt bother me and it shouldnt bother them. They will be thinking about the wedding anyway, not what is on your plate.
PS: My best friend is a vegetarian and gets hassled about this all of the time, she just smiles and piles on the potatos.
 

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