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January 28, 2013


A fresh (medium rare) perspective on horsemeat

by quaesitor

While the world out there is contorting itself into ever more yogic twists about horsemeat being found in burgers, I thought a little contribution from Graham Greene might be valid. I’m rereading his rather wonderful (dare I say it, quixotic) Monsignor Quixote and encountered this little gem in chapter 1.

After coming to the aid of an out of town bishop, the uber-parochial Father Quixote invites him to lunch in his humble abode. Having to deal with this unexpected guest provokes this conversation with Teresa, his housekeeper.

Greene - Monsignor Quixote ‘But the steak…’ Teresa said.
‘What about the steak?’
‘You can’t give the bishop horsemeat.’
‘My steak is horsemeat?’
‘It always has been. How can I give you beef with the money you allow me?’
‘You have nothing else?’
‘Oh dear, oh dear. We can only pray that he doesn’t notice. After all, I have never noticed.’
‘You have never eaten anything better.’ (p16)

Some moments later, the meal begins.

‘Teresa came in with the steaks and they seated themselves at table and the bishop said grace.

Father Quixote poured out the wine and watched with apprehension as the bishop took his first slice of steak, which he quickly washed down with wine – perhaps to take away the taste.

‘It is a very common wine, monsignor, but here we are very proud of what we call the manchegan.’

‘The wine is agreeable,’ said the bishop, ‘but the steak… the steak,’ he said, staring at the plate while Father Quixote waited for the worst, ‘the steak…’ he said a third time as though he were seeking deep into his memory of ancient rites for the correct term of anathema – Teresa meanwhile hovered in the doorway, waiting too – ‘never, at any table, have I tasted… so tender, so flavoursome, I am tempted to be blasphemous and say so divine a steak. I would like to congratulate your admirable housekeeper.’

‘She is here, monsignor.’

‘My dear lady, let me shake your hand.’ (p18)

So there we have it. Perhaps it’s not so bad after all… (especially when accompanied by some good wine).

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 28 2013

    In Austria some cuts of hoarse meat are treated as a delicacy. In Hungary they regularly use hoarse meat in their most precious salami. However, I am pretty sure that what you find in a 2UKP stack of frozen quarter pounders, is a rather different “cut.”

    • Jan 28 2013

      yes indeed – though I can’t help but feel that the alarmist headlines have been a little ott… though i wonder Lauri, if your horse is a little hoarse!

      • Jan 28 2013

        never did learn how to spell, though I am glad I was consistent! 😉

  2. Jan 29 2013

    On a serious note, I’ve long thought that Monsignor Quixote’s two and a half bottles of wine are an excellent description of the view taken by a lot of British Christians (dare I say it, conservative evangelicals, … and dare I say it, average Fulwood-goers) of the Trinity.

    No prizes for guessing who is the half bottle of wine.

    • Jan 29 2013

      it is a fascinating moment in the book and genuinely funny. Though I think this is a charge more easily uttered than substantiated in churches. I’m always slightly suspect about quite what grounds people use to make the case.


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