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Nina In New York: Horse Walks Into A Bar, Says “Make Me A Bowl of Swedish Meatballs”

Swedish meatballs with lingenberry jam sold by Ikea. (Ikea.com February 25, 2013)

Swedish meatballs with lingenberry jam sold by Ikea. (Ikea.com February 25, 2013)

NYC Breakfast

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

Put down the meatballs. Yes, all of them. That one too.

Now, first, we should probably have a conversation about why you were buying ground meatstuffs at a discount furniture warehouse. Sure, Ikea is a trendy discount furniture warehouse, and it’s all European and whatnot and sometimes well-dressed monkeys roam the showrooms and much of their stuff is of pretty darn decent quality considering the price, but let’s call a spade a spade. You don’t just go around eating meatballs willy nilly from places that aren’t primarily meatball distributors. Even if the are Swedish.

Here’s what happens when you do: you might be eating horse meat. Of course, thus far the problem seems to be contained to European stores, but we’re just a hop skip and a jump from there and once you hear the phrase “horse meat” there’s just no going back. Europe seems to be experiencing quite a bit of this repulsive problem, having recently discovered horse DNA in Nestle pasta meals, some frozen burgers, and lord knows what else.

More: NYC’s 5 Best Meatball Meals

Here is a list of foods I would considering eating from a snack bar at a discount furniture warehouse or other big box store:

  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Soft serve ice cream
  • Name brand hot dogs, such as Ballpark or Hebrew National
  • Churros (I can’t explain it, but it’s a thing)
  • Soft pretzel

That’s about it. It’s a similar list to acceptable, traditional stadium offerings. No ground beef, nothing fancy, and nothing that requires skill, exceptional levels of cleanliness, or high sourcing standards. To me, this feels very reasonable.

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Some have raised the question of why it is so horrifying to think of eating horse as opposed to beef. They are both beasts, after all, not so very different and clearly similar in taste. Well for one, I’m not certain of the health regulations surrounding horse, considering it’s not exactly what’s for dinner. For two, that’s gross. That’s like saying, “what’s the big deal if you ate cat or dog if you couldn’t distinguish it from chicken?”

It’s a slippery slope when you start deeming some animals off-limits for consumption based on logic like, “but they’re cute.” Lambs are cute. Calves are cute. Sometimes cows are cute. I rarely find chickens cute, but if I think about it long enough I can talk myself out of that chicken salad sandwich. Some countries eat animals we would only ever see as pets. Some countries think the animals we keep as pets are filthy and bizarre. We eat animals other countries consider to be sacred. It’s all relative. That’s cool. And by cool I mean, I’m not going to pretend I’m a worldly enough person to try it another way. But I can see how this can be argued from a number of perspectives.

However, I think all should be allowed to knowingly opt in to whatever animal they’re eating. I don’t particularly enjoy riding horses, but I’ve never felt compelled to take a bite out of one, either. And if Europe wants to inject its beef products with horse filler, it may be time for me to start exploring other continents.

In the meantime, I’ll stick to my Costco churros. Why are they so good? No one will ever know.