Eating Horse In Austerity Britain

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There Is Nothing New About The Horse Meat Scandal

On 27 April 1942, the Bow Street magistrates convicted The Waldorf Hotel, London, its head chef, and a London horseflesh dealer for ignoring the regulations fixing the maximum price of horsemeat

The chef paid the dealer £6 10s for 78 lb of horsemeat, nearly double the official price of £3 18s. Two American journalists, staying at The Waldorf while reporting on the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, read the news with consternation

According to The Times, the hotel manager told the court that the chef, acting on his own initiative, bought the horsemeat to supplement the meat ration of the hotel staff, most of whom were foreigners

“not unused to horse flesh and did not mind it”

Few people who read press reports of the case believed the manager’s account, suspecting that the chef diverted the staff’s meat ration onto customers’ plates and bulked out meat products with horseflesh

One of the American correspondents, Clifford P. Morehouse, author of the memoir Wartime Pilgrimage, felt that he had

“probed the secret of the strange tasting ‘sausage,’”

which he ate on a tray in his hotel room every morning

Disgusted by the thought of eating horsemeat, a meat that he and many Britons associated with poverty and animal cruelty, Morehouse steered clear of sausage for the remainder of his stay at The Waldorf. His colleague

“swore that he would eat no more of it for fear that while he was trying to swallow a bite someone might call out ‘Whoa’ and he would choke to death.”

Although eating horse flesh repulsed him, Morehouse did not condemn those involved, appreciating Britons’ craving for red meat. In spring 1942, a British adult received a weekly ration of meat to the value of 1s 2d and 4 oz of bacon and ham

According to Morehouse, an adult American would eat a week’s meat ration for Sunday lunch. For middle-class Britons, it represented a 44 per cent cut in the amount of rationed meat they ate in 1944 compared to what they had eaten in 1936/7

Workers, who ate less meat to begin with, saw their consumption fall by 56 per cent over the same period.

via Eating horse in austerity Britain | OUPblog


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