Hippophagy – eating horsemeat.

John William Severin Gouley


I read with interest Nemorino’s post on hippophagy, the eating of horsemeat, in France. The following excerpt is from Dining and Its Amenities (1907), a lively book on dining and dinners by the American surgeon, John William Severin Gouley, nowadays remembered, if he is at all, for rather drier treatises on urinary disorders. It is an entertaining book and well worth seeking out at archive.org. Thankfully there is comparatively little of the laboured punning seen in the second paragraph!

The record of the Persian fondness for horse and camel eating may prove interesting to those who remember the abortive attempt, made about forty years ago, to introduce hippophagy in this country as an economic measure. To the Yankee this was suggestive of glanders, anthrax, actimycosis, and other vile pestilences, and his vision, olfaction, gustation, and digestion, unlike the Persian’s, rebelled against any dainty dish having a horsy odor or savor, such as horse-tail soup, a horse rib roast, collop, or steak, or a filet chevalique aux champignons. The French, however, were glad enough to devour spavined, farcied, and emaciated steeds during the siege of Paris and to eat even worse kinds of flesh. Hippophagy is now common on the continent of Europe, and has of late years been reintroduced into our country to supply some foreign immigrants of the poorer classes.

The hippophagic proposition did excite many sardonic horse laughs with more than ordinary facial spasms followed by no little pharyngeal disturbance, when a learned essay on the subject was perused by Castanish gourmets. By the by, since the horse is not a laughing being owing to absence of the necessary muscle and nerve elements—a horse laugh can in no way be connected with that amiable, friendly beast, for it means precisely a hoarse laugh; horse and hoarse having long been used indifferently to express the adjectival idea of the laughter of an individual who might at the time be suffering from laryngeal distress, who could, if he would, laugh hoarsely, or who, perchance, should have a naturally hoarse voice.

One thought on “Hippophagy – eating horsemeat.

  1. Thanks for this entertaining excerpt from 1907, demonstrating the Anglo-Saxon taboo against eating horsemeat. (And thanks for the link to my post.)

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