In my new novel, Minna, a young woman on the run from Montana explores the streets of Seattle with her new friend Cosmo. Minna spies a sign in Pikes’ Market: “Fresh Horsemeat from Montana.” She had only recently run away from Montana and her mother who runs the local bakery! For her Seattle is another world, with some things more ominous than just people eating horses! I hope you will enjoy her journey in the World War II years as Minna navigates her newly discovered world, survives, and prevails!
Horsemeat! You could eat unrationed horsemeat during WWII, but fifteen hundred years ago you could be ordered to eat just bread and water for the sin of eating horsemeat!
In Ireland in the year 732 A.D Pope Gregory III in his Collectio Canonum Hibernensis, a collection of rules for the Irish, declared it a sin to eat horses because they are “filthy and accursed.” It was rumored Gregory III was planning to go to war and would need horses. The punishment was severe for violators. Three years of penance and just bread and water was necessary to acquire forgiveness and make right one’s relationship with God. However, it still remained a common practice to eat horses during ancient religious rituals in the British Isles.
In America our love of “Black Beauty” trumps practicality. Horses are our companions. Even if we don’t train or ride them we like seeing them run in a field. We admire their proud countenance and the iconic independence they represent and don’t relish them on our platters. As one NPR commentator said,
“It’s okay to kill a ton of chickens and cows, but kill a horse? By golly, there’s something wrong with you!”
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