However you cut it (tartare, burgers, Ikea meatballs), Americans generally don’t respond well to dishes that contain horsemeat. Pittsburgh chef Justin Severino decided to push his luck anyway at his acclaimed restaurant, Cure, which has been nominated for awards by the James Beard Foundation and Food & Wine. As its second course, the evening’s special menu had a dish very straightforwardly called “Le Cheval,” which is how the French say horse. According to Cure’s Facebook post showing the menu, the meat was prepared as a tartare with black-garlic mayo and salt-and-vinegar chips:
Word of this culinary rarity traveled fast. Angry Facebook commenters have now blasted Cure, and one person suggested that the restaurant try “putting Hipster Tartare on the menu next.” There’s also a Change.org petition, currently at about 1,000 signatures, created by a former Humane Society director that asks Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to “make sure that no more restaurants in PA serve horse.” The pro-horsemeat crowd, meanwhile, is trying to rebut each negative comment with long-winded defenses of the animal as food.
Commenters have also pointed out that Cure’s website promises “a neighborhood restaurant” that’s “a reflection of the seasons of Western Pennsylvania and its local farms.” America has no horse-slaughter facilities, so the meat had to come from Alberta, Canada — so, boom, not local. The Alberta horse farm it came from, Cure tried noting in a press statement and on Facebook, is sustainable, and the whole meal was part of “a collaborative dinner with chefs in Canada, a Quebecois feast.” Critics have replied to this by asking the restaurant if it would “do an Asian dinner that serves cats boiled alive and dogs beat before slaughter to capture their fear hormones?”