Posted by: docdenbow | February 10, 2013

Lasagne de Cheval – TV Dinners?


Flesh fresh from a pony club? The carcasses of the fallen in the Grand National? Who knows? The papers are full of the scandals enveloping retailers of ready meals and the somewhat ambiguous nature of the products that they have been supplying. Initially when the story of horse meat masquerading as beef hit the news media I was initially puzzled and a bit dismissive. I thought that with the amount of crap that gets bunged into ready meals, TV dinners and what have you, then a trace of our equine chums was hardly surprising.

The French are quite partial to the odd bit of Viande de Cheval, so to an extent they probably don’t see what all the fuss is about. I pulled these two quotes (courtesy of a Google translation) from Le Parisien.

“According Findus, fraud could go back to last August. Discovery of horse meat in beef lasagne supposedly caused a scandal in the UK, where the horse is revered and consumption taboo.”

“The French company Comigel, which distributes to its Findus products in 16 countries, was told by his supplier Spanghero the meat was of Romanian origin. At first, it was described as being of French origin by the health authorities of Luxembourg, where the dishes were prepared. The source said that the meat had been fraudulently labeled as “beef.” French agency for combating fraud, but also the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, denounced yesterday a “deception”, and that the United Kingdom, where horse meat is normally not commercially available, the case took on enormous proportions, causing a reaction from David Cameron, referring to the story “shocking” and unacceptable.” 

As you can see the quotes seem to be more about deception than public health. I think that it’s quite telling that a French company distributes the most guilty offender, Findus, in Europe.

If the French are not that concerned about Lasagne de Cheval then I think it most appropriate that they should buy the lot off us in the UK and bung it on their supermarches shelves for the nourishment of the residents of La Belle France.

Anyway, a few years ago I went to Paris for a holiday. I was, even as a 20 year old, intrigued by some of the peculiarities of French cuisine. Snails and horse steaks? My thought was “when in France……” so I gave these two stereotypical French menu fillers a bash. L’escargots grilled with garlic were really really nice. Once you overcome your reservations about dragging them out of their (large) shells, you would go back for more. For the old Cheval I tried a sort of stew, memory is a bit foggy, but it may have been a Mexican Fricassee and the only thing I can say is that it was ok. Wouldn’t exactly rush to try it again.

I think the worrying thing about all of this horsemeat scandal is that the origin is Romania and is seemingly shrouded in a little mystery. Like a lot of things sold today we, the consumers, are kept in the dark by selective labelling. We don’t seem to want to think or believe that a lot of clothing in our stores are made by sweatshop labour in developing under developed countries.

Do we care? As long as trainers are cool and our clothes are cheap I don’t think we do. Have you stopped to think that this horsemeat fiasco has been inflicted on us by our desire to get stuff on the cheap. I’ll give you an example. In supermarkets you can get a “meal deal” for £10. This consists of an enormous “beef” lasagne, a couple of garlic baguettes and a dessert. Easy, convenient, cheap. My guess is that the “beef” is, as one of my mates in the restaurant trade would put it, Venezuelan Water Buffalo, but hey I guess I’m being cynical here. We buy TV dinners anyway and become indignant when we find out what’s in them.

Meanwhile the local butcher selling proper beef, the deli selling proper pasta go out of business.

I used to cook my own lasagne, but don’t anymore as the last time I did I had an epileptic fit. I’m a bit reluctant to try again – tempting fate?

Cook your own….the Ramsay way

Just put some effort in and actually cook something, you know use that cooker in your kitchen for what it’s meant for, you know, cooking. With all of the plastic packaging not being used then we  may just be able to save the planet. Just a thought…

And just think on….all of this stuff at the big supermarkets is named as being “suspect”

Tesco, Lidl, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Iceland, Asda, Co-Op and Dunnes: Dalepak own-label beefburgers

Aldi: Dalepak’s Specially Selected Aberdeen Angus Quarter Pounders, Oakhurst Beef Quarter Pounders and Frozen Oakhurst Beefburgers, Today’s Special Frozen Beef Lasagne, Today’s Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese

Aldi: Today’s Special frozen beef lasagne

Aldi: Today’s Special frozen spaghetti bolognese

Asda: four lines of Freeza Meats frozen burgers

Asda: Smart Price Economy beefburgers

Findus UK: beef lasagne 320g, 360g, 500g

Tesco: Everyday Value beefburgers and Beef Quarter Pounders

Tesco: Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese

Food for thought?

Ciao For Now



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