Although the international furor around horse meat has died down since it first escalated earlier this year, the shock is all too fresh for a Tel Aviv couple who recently discovered chunks of it in their paella.
The couple, who originally spoke with the local paper Ha’aretz and asked to remain anonymous, went with another couple to Turkiz, an upscale restaurant in North Tel Aviv that is famous for its seafood.
After receiving his chicken and seafood paella, the boyfriend reportedly identified some suspicious pieces of meat that “looked and smelled” a bit funny.
“We called the waiter and asked him if there was [red] meat in the serving, despite that not being part of the description,” the woman told Ha’aretz.
“We asked the waiter if it was pork, and the waiter told us — ‘not exactly.’ At that point we got annoyed and asked, ‘What does that mean, ‘not exactly?’ Is it pork or not?’ And then the waiter told us it was horse meat. We were stunned.”
Israel Hayom spoke with Eli Samari, one of the restaurant’s co-owners, who said the matter had been “blown out of proportion.”
Samari said the horse meat came from Hungary and that it was added to the dish to enhance its flavor.
“There were all of two pieces of meat,” said Samari. “…I understand the mistake; we didn’t think to write that there was horse meat just like we didn’t think to write that there was saffron. I’m not ashamed of anything, this isn’t a cheap ingredient, spoiled or not good; I wouldn’t lie to any client.”
Opened in 1991, Turkiz is located in Tel Aviv’s Sea & Sun project and prides itself for serving only the best, most natural ingredients.
“Turkiz puts an emphasis on the freshness of its raw materials, making sure to handle them just the right way and prepare them in the creative yet simple way that characterizes our dishes, all in the highest standards,” according to its website.
While the couple in question were not religiously observant, horse meat is not considered kosher because it doesn’t have split hooves and it doesn’t chew its cud, so Israelis who keep kosher will be disappointed to learn about Turkiz’s new ingredient.
For the rest, horse meat holds a socio-cultural stigma in many countries – though it is considered a delicacy by Dutch people, though there is no evidence that we know of to suggest that it is less healthy than beef, for example. In fact, there is some evidence that it might be healthier.
Let us know what you think? Would you be outraged to find horse meat in your paella?
:: Israel Hayom
Image of Spanish Seafood Paella, Shutterstock