Say what you will, but Philadelphia chef Peter McAndrews doesn't horse around when it comes to his menu selections.
The head chef of South Philly Italian eatery Monsú announced last week that the restaurant's menu will soon include some selections of the equine variety, reports CBS Philly.
“I plan to try to introduce it in smaller portions, like in an appetizer and/or pasta dish," McAndrews told CBS. "I think it will be a little more acceptable to have a small piece of it as opposed to a great T-bone of horse meat.”
The chef's plans come at something of a watershed moment for the meat, which is at the center of a European scandal after recently being discovered disguised as beef and other meats in "frozen supermarket meals and in restaurants, schools and hospitals," according to the Associate Press.
The U.S. Congress in 2011 lifted a ban on funding horse meat inspections. The five-year ban had essentially frozen production at horse slaughterhouses, according to the Associated Press.
During the ban, and for many years previously, American horses wound up in Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses, before being sold on other continents, according to The New York Times. An unintended consequence of this inspection ban has been an increase in American ex-racing exports tainted with potentially dangerous levels of steroids.
Chef McAndrew's Monsú features Sicilian inspiration with a bold flavor, according to Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan, who describes the restauranteur as a man full of "freewheeling kitchen bravado."
But it appears not everyone is as willing as McAndrews to tickle their taste buds.
Just one day after CBS reported on Monsú's horse meat plans, a caller threatened the establishment with violence over the proposed menu option.
“They called into the restaurant and said ‘You guys start cooking horses, I am going to blow up your restaurant,’” Andrews told NBC10 Philadelphia. “You know it’s OK to boycott but when you threaten me and my family then we have a problem. There are a lot of different causes that are important, but for anyone to go to that extreme it’s disheartening.”
Local food blog Foobooz points out that McAndrews has served a horse-less version of a traditionally equine dish in Monsú before, substituting goat meat.
According to The Guardian, Italy is one of the world's largest consumers of the meat, where it is considered something of a delicacy. The Guardian also reports that about 16 percent of French households also routinely buy horse meat.
McAndrews might want to learn from an earlier attempt to introduce Americans to a horse meat dish by New York City chef Hugue Dufour, of MoMA PS1's M. Wells Dinette. The New York Times reports that the French Canadian's horse meat tartare was pulled off the menu after less than a week, after activists bombarded Dufour with complaints.