• France's news in English

Why Brits are crazy to say 'neigh' to horsemeat

Sophie Inge · 11 Feb 2013, 10:00

Published: 11 Feb 2013 10:00 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Even so, it's somewhat ironic that the “scandalous” revelation that Findus has been selling horse-meat as beef in its lasagnes has dominated the French news agenda for the last few days. In France, of course, horsemeat is not only consumed by many French people each day, but it's also a celebrated and traditional dish. 

You only have to take a glimpse at French news websites and social networks to get a sense of their bafflement.

“I eat horsemeat!” said one reader on the website of French daily Le Figaro. “They [the British] are making a fuss. Horsemeat is absolutely delicious, especially a well-seasoned steak tartare with capers, mustard, salt and pepper.”

Moreover, she added: “Horses don’t get mad cow disease!” (The French are unlikely ever to forget that mad cow disease originated in Britain.)

Another reader of the right-leaning Le Figaro appeared to think that the illegal substitution of horsemeat for beef was the best practical joke he had ever heard: “Get the English to guzzle horsemeat? Excellent. Next time, they should add some frogs and snails, too.”

Meanwhile, on Twitter, @PrincetamimPSG suggested that consumers would actually benefit from being made to eat horse: “I don’t understand the scandal of horsemeat in Findus lasagnes. Horsemeat for less than €5 is a great deal.”

Another tweeter, @Labnogart, agreed: “Beef or horse, it’s still meat. Consumers can be so fussy!” 

Of course, French tweeters – just like the British – saw it as the perfect opportunity to engage in a good old-fashioned jeu de mots.

Translation: “Findus: Consumers, be assured that's there’s zero risk. To get rid of horse meat, you just need to take a dump.” As you may be aware, “selle” is also French for “saddle.”

Translation: “#Findus really isn’t strict about its products!” - the double entendre of course being “À cheval” which also means “on horseback”.

Other French tweeters seized an opportunity to criticize the ready-meal culture which is so widespread in the UK. “Ready meals with too much fat, salt and sugar somehow seem much less serious than the fact that there is horsemeat in them,” tweeted @AlexisBraud.

Only a few people expressed sympathy towards their cousins across the channel. “I can understand why the English think it’s a scandal. I would take it very badly if I unknowingly ate horse meat,” commented Yuka on the Le Figaro website.

François, a 66-year-old pensioner from Paris agreed, telling The Local: “Both horsemeat and beef are good, but when you buy beef it’s natural to expect beef.”

Quentin Parrinello, a 22-year-old Parisian student believes that the French public's keen interest in the horse meat scandal owes much to recent events. He told the Local: “To be honest, French people have recently been looking for just about any reason to criticize British people – especially since the last EU summit. The British have become the new Germans.”

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available