Horses, or to be more specific, dead horses, have been galloping away with the headlines in Europe this week following revelations that horse meat has been turning up on dinner plates, masquerading as beef in bolognaise (or ''bologneighs'', as it has become known), lasagne, burgers and assorted creations featuring mincemeat. The expression ''I'm so hungry I could eat a horse'' has taken on a whole new relevance.
Cynics may argue that if you are prepared to eat meat, it shouldn't make any difference whether it's from a horse, cow, elephant, kangaroo, giraffe or three-toed sloth. But in Britain people simply don't eat horses _ or rather, they didn't think they ate horses. For a start, the French used to be partial to horse cuisine, which in itself is enough to put off the British.
Horses hold a certain noble status in British culture and eating them isn't in the script. The horse is considered fondly, almost like a pet. Not that you would want one in your living room. They are up there with dogs as regards loyalty and companionship. And you simply don't eat companions. Some Brits feel ill just at the thought of eating horse. All they need to do is think about Black Beauty or Trigger and it's enough to give them the collywobbles. In actual fact, they are more likely to be eating a Romanian carthorse.