GUY HENDERSON: Dear old Dobbin is on the menu
I'm not sure I really understand the whole beefburger furore.
A few days ago it was announced that food boffins had found traces of horsemeat in some supermarket beefburgers.
The offending burgers were immediately taken off sale, and humble apologies were made on TV and in the newspapers by the heads of supermarkets which had stocked the products in question.
People everywhere threw up their hands at the very horror of having possibly eating a fragment of horse along with their cow.
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It was simply not done, to tuck into a slice of dear old Dobbin.
And that's the whole point, isn't it?
Why is it so terrible to eat a horse when it is perfectly acceptable to eat a cow, or a pig, or a lamb, a rabbit or a fish?
Or a goat, or an ostrich, or a boar.
If you're a country sports person, and live in Dulverton, extend that to pheasant, deer, partridge, duck or practically anything else that has ever drawn breath.
I'm a vegetarian, as you may know.
But I hadn't said a word on the subject of the whole horse/burger thing before I was getting "smug veggie" comments from meat-eating friends on Facebook.
One wrote: "Just you wait until the 'uniquorn' scandal breaks!"
There is a possibility, for sure, that traces of asparagus may one day find their way into the tofu chain, but I reckon I am going to be able to live with that.
I had a colleague who was one of those people who would happily go out at the weekends in his camouflaged coat and stout boots and shoot things that happened to walk or fly by, then eat them.
He would haul things out of clear rivers and streams and eat them, too.
He had no qualms at all about skinning, gutting, hanging and boning things that had, until very recently, gambolled about the verdant pastures of South Devon.
And that, surely, is the right approach for any meat-eater to take.
Worse is to tuck into a steak or a meat joint, put their fingers in their ears and say "Don't tell me where this comes from, I don't want to know.
"Don't explain anything about how this got from the field or factory farm on to my plate.
"And don't you dare tell me about the day you spent touring the bacon factory in Totnes."
If you don't want to know exactly how it got there, then don't eat it.
If you can stand to know what went on in the process, fine.
I'll shut up now, as the only thing worse than a sanctimonious ex-smoker is a sanctimonious ex-meat eater, and I am running the risk of being both.
The first place we ever came across the eating of horse meat was in France, where it is a routine part of the menu.
If you drive out of Calais on the road inland you will find whole streets that seem to be made up entirely of tabacs and chevalines, the horse butchers.
They are adorned with pictures of happy horses, looking delighted to be heading for the butcher's slab, just the way we have smiling pigs in straw hats pictured at our butcher's, or a big, jolly stand-up glass-fibre cow standing on the pavement outside.
French people happily queue up for the best cuts of horse meat, while in the village squares the chevalines market stalls are always doing brisk business.
This took a bit of explaining to our girls when we first took them through a French market.
After all, back in the tent on the campsite they had their My Little Pony books and crayons.
You've coloured in the book, now eat the stars!
The first, and still the best, market we ever saw was in St Valery sur Somme, just a little way down the coast from Calais.
It's a lovely town, and has more than one excellent campsite nearby. The Henderson campers recommend it highly.
Its narrow main street is full of little shops and restaurants, not so much to cater for the British tourists, of whom there are few, but to cater for the French and the Dutch, who arrive in their droves, drawn by good boating waters and a safe harbour.
Down at the far end of town, past the villa where Jules Verne once lived, is a fiendishly difficult crazy golf course and a huge car park that gives itself over to a plethora of brightly-coloured stalls.
There you can buy all the staples of a French market - fresh fruit and vegetables, ridiculously lavish cakes and pastries, huge, beige items of ladies' underwear hanging from canopies and billowing in the wind at face height.
You can buy T-shirts with full moons, wolves, native Americans, Bob Marley and Johnny Halliday on them.
You can buy cheeses of every conceivable shape and colour. I once tried a sample of some local cheese that was so acrid, so pungent that I staggered away from the fromage stall clutching my throat, eyes watering profusely.
I had nightmares about that cheese and it was days before I got rid of the taste
And, of course, you can buy horse meat in any French street market, deep, rich red cuts of meat that sell as fast as the stallholder can slice them.
Nobody in France thinks it odd or unpalatable that horse meat is sold.
But mention it around here and you will get a sharp intake of breath and an old-fashioned look.
When animals are food, people become strange.