There is a running joke amongst Norwegians that they eat anything and everything, so when Moose said the family in Alta ate the horse I thought he was just horsing around.  Nope.  I didn’t believe at first because of his casualness or the Norwegian thrill to shock outlanders with their own outlandish habits, but it only took the second ‘yeah, they ate Sjurmin – Sherman the Horse, of course’ that I had to pull over the car.
‘Did your family eat the horse?’
‘Yeah.’
‘Do they normally eat horse?’
‘When theres one around.’
Moose went on to explain to me how tender Sjurmin was as he had been sitting in a paddock for way too long.

I’m still a little shaken, even by writing this post by the thought of my family sitting round the kitchen table eating a nice horse stroganoff.  But a Norwegian-type of thought has just popped into my mind: why do we think it is ok only to eat ugly animals?  Horses are considered beautiful, majestic creatures by many cultures – especially by the English-culture.  However, other cultures see horses as a source of food.  Sjurmin was way past his prime (he used to be a race horse), and probably past his use-by date.  He had lived a very good life on the farm.  He was well loved and cared for, and was visited every day.  Sjurmin even served the community at Christmas time with one-horse-open-sleigh rides and was often hired for weddings.  The neighbourhood kids used to come over and play with Sjurmin, brushing his coat, going for rides and helping him exercise.  So rather than waiting until he dies and hauling the carcass to ‘the glue factory’, it strangely seems better to enjoy Sjurmin one last time with family and friends.  (Although, Sjurmin was on the heavy side so I guess there will be at least three or four other special meal times to remember him.)

Skål for Sjurmin!

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