“Les Incorrects,” was the theme of the this year’s Semaine du Fooding, and their aren’t too many foods more politically incorrect to consume than horse meat.
Chef Tonino Simbula of Sardegna à Tavola was responsible for the equine offerings. He served it two ways: Grilled and as carpaccio, which is to say pounded thin and served raw. That’s right, I ate raw horse meat.
In this video report about the events, chef Simbula says “People should talk about it less and just eat it.”
I disagree, and I think the organizers of “Les Incorrects” would as well. I think the idea is to consider prejudices we each have about food, not ignore them. On the table were foods, mostly traditional delicacies, that are maligned for different reasons: Because they stink (a collection of aggressive cheeses), because they are high in calories and cholesterol (a butterfat laden kouign amann), or because of cultural taboos (the cheval).
Additionally, each night a different, well-known chef was invited to serve a dish he (no chicks as far as I know) would never, ever serve in his own restaurant. They idea was for them to be masked and anonymous, to serve something outlandish, bizarre or bad without risking their reputation. The anonymity was only hypothetical, though, and I was thrilled to see that it was Stephane Jego’s turn to offend last night.
The squeamish would have been offended by the display of dead bunnies among open bags of Haribo Tagada candies, and the snobbish would have been offended that M. Jego actually topped his lievre à la Royale with crushed pieces of the sugary faux raspberries and a cream infused with the same. Would anyone dare tell him they didn’t like it? Or would we all trick ourselves into liking it because we knew who made it? Would those who actually did like it be embarrassed to admit it?
There were less thought-provoking offerings, of course. Natural wines from the Estezargues co-op were being poured, and the warm kouign amann gave me an excuse to smile at Sébastien Gaudard, the man who made it.
But I for one love to talk and think about food. Each of has a set of personal and cultural preferences and convictions about food, and I think it’s important (not to mention occasionally delicious) to examine them. Otherwise, we’re just eating what we’re fed.