Category: Society / February 22, 2013 10:08 AM EST
The rumpus in Europe over horsemeat sold as beef is bringing a bonanza for France's 700 surviving horse butchers, who are suddenly piquing consumer curiosity after years of decline.
Non-stop media coverage has made eating horses a hot topic round office water coolers, boosting sales by up to 15 percent, according to France's horse butchers' trade group.
Paris horse butcher Jocelyne Lamiré, who has been in the trade for the past thirty years, said on Friday (February 22) she clearly felt there is now more interest in what she had to offer and had noticed new customers.
"Yes we have more people coming in, it's true, including people that I hadn't seen before. For instance yesterday I had a lady coming in from Montmartre, earlier today I had a customer from the Paris outskirts, she walked past and saw there was a horse butcher's and thought 'why not?'," she said as clients queued in front of her block.
"But will it last? We'll see," she added.
France's taste for horsemeat reputedly dates back to hungry 18th-century revolutionaries who ate the horses of toppled aristocrats. It flourished for two centuries, then fell out of fashion with a squeamish younger generation.
The horsemeat scandal began last month when tests in Ireland revealed some beef products also contained equine DNA and triggered product recalls across Europe.
While the mislabelling aroused public concern about oversight of the food chain, it also prompted much discussion about the ethical and gastronomic merits of eating horses by choice.
"It's maybe because people realised that it is a product which is energising, tender and savoury and that as long as we eat cow, an animal which is as noble as the horse and which, on top of that, gives milk, and that's marvellous, so why not horse?", said Yves Mollat, a regular customer at Lamiré's horse-butcher's.
The trend has also been noticed at other horse-butchers and restaurants in the French capital.
France and Germany announced on Thursday they will push for compulsory labelling of the origin of meat used in processed food in a bid to avoid a repeat of the scandal that burst after horsemeat was found instead of beef in products around countries in Europe.
(Video Source: Reuters)