Five-year-old me would be so mad at 32-year-old me. Probably full on temper tantrum with lots of crying, runny nose, and yelling “WHYYYYYYYY?” What did I do, you may be wondering, and why would my child-self be so upset?
I ate horse. Not just a little piece of it, but a full-on horse steak.
Five-year-old Katie wanted to be a cowgirl and ride horses and wear her pink glittery cowgirl boots and wear sweaters with horses on them and play with horse toys…you get the idea (*see short story below). She would be horrified to know I ate the animal she admires most.
Why on earth did I eat horse? The horse has played an important role in the history of Kazakhstan (I will write a more extensive post about this down the road) as transportation and food for its people. It is not crazy that it should appear on a menu here. Yes, we get that, but why did you eat it? 1). I love to shock my parents and family by telling them about unusual foods I’ve tried, 2). I feel like it is my duty as an anthropologist to experience the traditions of other cultures, 3). A work friend from back home insisted I had to do this right away (mission accomplished, Tony!), and 4). My own curiosity.
For this adventure, my husband and I went with a group of his friends to a place called Line Brew, which is described as having the best horse steaks in Astana (check out the page called “Меню” = Menu for some photos of other food offerings and their cooking styles)! I took the waitress’ recommendation and tried their seafood soup as an appetizer. I also enjoyed many of their homemade beers both before and after the main course. The real thing you all want to know is…what was the horse steak like?
Katie’s First Horse Steak Review:
Appearance: the cut looked like a filet mignon and purplish-red in color.
Texture: very tender and lean, not tough or stringy like I anticipated.
Taste: slightly sweet and almost creamy (Reed says he picked up grassy flavors, but I did not get a gamey taste at all – I was really expecting it to taste like venison).
Would I eat it again: Probably, but like most Americans it is hard to wrap my brain around the idea of eating horse. I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish it, but I’m not sure if that’s because I had a bowl of rice a few hours earlier, the soup was too filling, or the beers, but I just couldn’t eat another bite after I was two-thirds of the way through. In some ways, it truly was delicious; I’ve never had anything like a horse steak. I do think it would take some time before I could do it again.
Outside of the United States, horse appears on menus across the world from Italy to China. From what I’ve read, it seems highly likely that we in the U.S. have probably had horse (unknowingly) because it is added as filler to many meat, especially pre-processed forms. That aside, we used to eat meat in the U.S., and from what some argue, we should again; the trends depend on feelings, economy, resources, and legislature. Apparently, horse is also a lean meat, an excellent source of protein, and high in omega-3s – I’m still not sure these are strong enough arguments to sell it to the American public.
Stay tuned for a future post on fermented horse milk, the alcoholic beverage of choice in Kazakhstan!
*While writing this post, I kept thinking about this photo of me all dressed up and riding a horse. This was the exchange I had with my mother when I asked her about it:
It really is amazing she still loves me when I torture her so. 😀