1. I’ve noticed this horse mosaic before. It’s on a wall just a few blocks from my apartment, so I walk past it fairly frequently. That said, I didn’t learn until I was writing my most recent story for Munchies why it was actually there.
2. Over the course of my research for the story, I learned that what is now my favorite local park used to be a part of one of Paris’ largest slaughterhouses – specifically, the part dedicated to the slaughter of horses for meat.
I’m not unaware of how strange the practice of eating horse might be for Americans, but the French have been eating horse for longer than they’ve been French, and oddly enough, it’s part of our history too. From the Native Americans who began both riding and eating horse in the mid-16th century to folks facing scarcity en route for the Western frontier to even the 1973 stock market crash, Americans have historically eaten horse in times of hardship (even if they usually thought they were eating beef).
3. In France, beef was definitely the most popular red meat, but horse has seen spikes of popularity over the years.
The preference for the former is clear in my neighborhood; these large statues of steer stand guard over either side of the former slaughterhouse, which was built in the late 19th century; the horse slaughterhouse was added a few years later, in 1907.
4. But horses are fairly present too, if you know where to look. This horse’s head is overlooking one of the side entrances to the park.
5. While the slaughterhouse is long gone (and horse consumption is currently on the decline in France), there are still a handful of places where you can try viande de cheval in the city. This restaurant is right across from the park and specializes in steak tartare which, believe it or not, was originally made with horse.