Wednesday, 02 December 2015

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Back your local butcher for burgers without horse

So, there he was having a quick lunch in a Tesco cafe, when the waitress asked him if he would like anything on his burger.

“Yes please,” he said. “A fiver each way.”

“Boom, boom...” as Basil Brush might have said all those years ago, before even funny foxy glove puppets needed to be wary of ending up in the mincer – later in the freezer and ultimately under the grill.

Nowadays no inexpensive animal is safe from the dreaded Bogof fate. It’s what dodgy nutritionists call progress.

Most grateful to John in Brampton for his aside on the horse meat in burgers business. Anything that can raise a smile from a nasty surprise in the shopping trolley has to be good for a bit of light relief.

And John – he’s a wag, that man – has even more good reasons to look on the brighter side of burgering-up the teatime menu.

“New Tesco burgers – low in fat, high in Shergar ....”

Oh, how we did laugh.

There are several sides to many a story, of course and sudden discovery that all beefburgers might not be quite so – well, as thoroughbred as they claim, is one such.

On the one hand there’s the problem that all is not quite what it says on the packet. Not like a Ronseal tin – though it might taste spookily similar.

And that’s never likely to impress any consumer only lately grown used to studying traffic-light symbols for calorie, sugar, fat and fibre content in processed food.

Nobody yet has communicated the colour-coding for fetlock in My Little Pony and ale pie. Bit of a sticking point, that.

On another hand there’s the question of what’s actually wrong with horse meat anyway? Plenty of people all over the world eat horse meat for lunch with no ill effects whatsoever.

You can probably bet – if you’re a regular supermarket bargain-hunter – you’ll have eaten it too, on many occasions, and considered it very tasty indeed.

Then on another – you need a lot of hands for this game – there’s a case for arguing we should be reassured that supermarket economy-super-value-swept-up-off-the-floor-burgers contain any meat at all. You do sometimes wonder.

And then again – last hand this, I promise – what else were they testing for when they found the horse? Last year’s tumbler at the 3.15 at Kempton might well be the least of our worries. The term meat covers a multitude of possibilities. A lot of them as appetising as Norovirus.

“You know how cow meat is called beef?” Natasha asked as she pondered her next shopping trip.


“And pig meat is called pork?”

“That’s right.”

“What’s horse meat called?”

“Erm... horse meat, funnily enough.”

Natasha looked like a young woman on the cusp of a conspiracy theory. I reckon she suspected having been duped by some cunning labelling; fooled, by a name she hadn’t recognised, into buying Black Beauty bangers.

I wish now I’d said it was called Quorn.

I’ve a cruel streak when it comes to veggies.

Beef-eaters must be more than a little miffed about their burgers, which is a great pity on the one foot – I’ve run out of hands now – a validation of smugness on the other.

See, those of us who still shop with a local butcher for our meat, have been trying to preach we know best for donkeys’ years. Now, while sniggering up our sleeves, we know darned well we were right all along.

Shop local. Get what you pay for. Take home what you asked for and if a Shetland pony fillet is what you want, order it well in advance.

As my favourite butcher Mark understands only too well, should he even think about slipping a bit of finely chopped gee-gee into my steak mince, he’d run the risk of finding his tenderest bits barbecued publicly on market day and fed to the crows.

We understand each other, Mark and I. His fillet is faultless – what more could a girl want?

And be honest, whether it’s offering humble apology or not, you can’t have that kind of relationship with a supermarket.


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