Posted by: leospurr | May 23, 2009

Horsemeat Diplomacy

Sorry to have been so silent!  The 4th quarter of school has not been the freewheeling time that I had been led to believe!  We have all of these pop up scenario driven exercises which require full attendance.   I’m glad that we didn’t hit the roads during Golden Week – some of my colleagues spent 30 hours on the road – for trips that normally only take 8 hours!  I did get to play a round of golf, and much to my surprise did not come in VERY last – just second to last.  We went to a golf course about an hour away, and it was some of the prettiest scenery I’ve seen yet in Japan, hands down!  The boys are doing great, and I’ll blog about one of the most amazing science museums we’ve ever been to in another blog.

Final research group on a mission!

Final research group on a mission!

Today’s blog, however, is dedicated to Mr. Ed.  Here’s a shout out to Ericson Sensei who introduced us to the concept of eating raw horsemeat in Japan.  Amidst all of our requisite, “ick” and “gross” comments, I had it in my head that I wanted to give it a try.  So, I’ve been in Japan for nearly 10 months, and FINALLY ate a cousin of Trigger.  If you are faint of heart or stomach, do not continue reading.  For those of you closely following the adventures of  “Samuress Weinberg”, hang on!



The courses began with a couple of seafood type dishes that I never really got the good translation of but resembled some kind of eyeball (I’m hoping it was just a baby octopus head) and slimy white worms (I THINK this was very very moist squid).  The main attraction was smoked and peppered horse TONGUE!  Ok, bring it on.  I’ve never even eaten beef tongue.  But, my group made this plan especially for me, and they were so excited to see if I liked everything.  So, I dove in, tongue-to-tongue with a beast that used to be much larger than me.  It was tasty, and the texture was fine.  As long as I don’t think too much about it, I’m ok.  The hardest part was over, I ate probably one of the most difficult things first.

pretty isn't it??

pretty isn't it??

Next came the raw slices, basashi, that I had been waiting for – thinly sliced and very lean – shoulder, rump, rib meat, and underneath the mane.  There was raw heart (had to just push through that one, too), and probably the most interesting – grilled aorta cooked with green onions and garlic – a bit too chewy, but great flavor.  There was also a fresh green salad with horsemeat bacon, and we ended with a shabu shabu of horsemeat fillet.  Essentially into a large pot of boiling broth filled with various veggies, you cook your own slice of horsemeat.  I felt like I was in the “Bubba Gump” of horsemeat.  How many different ways can one REALLY eat a horse?  Several, it appears.  Once the meat was gone, the waitress brought us thick udon noodles to put into the soup pot for the final course.  All the while, the drinks and conversation were free flowing.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned the concept of nomihodai and tabehodai – essentially its all you can drink and/or all you can eat.  You usually get 2 hours for a set price, and order what you want from the menu.  So, for the abovementioned experience, it only cost about $30 each!  I’ll defnitely miss this about Tokyo.

No American horses were harmed in the course of this posting – these were reportedly horses from Canada and Northern Japan.   Next on the list?  Blowfish and whale meat, stay tuned!



  1. Mmmmm … we tried basashi in Kyoto but only one tiny plate. This sounds like the full experience!

  2. At our recent Chevron Retirees anual Meeting we had a medical presentation on aging well – The many Okinawan centenarians was one topic. Seven servings of vegetable, rice and fruit a day, very little meat, plus lots of alcohol and green tea were cited as major factors. Also mentioned the practice of harabachi bu (80% full?) as another factor. Sounds like you made the alcohol goal, but not the harabachi bu!

    I remember having to drown smoked (not even raw) oysters with lots of beer on our first meal in Tokyo on the way to Korea in ’59. How tastes change – bring on the liver of sea urchin!

  3. See? I told you it was good stuff! I’m glad that your colleagues think enough of you to have arranged this for you, and that you got to experience the wonderful goodness of basashi. What did you think of the 鬣(たてがみ), the pure white fat from under the mane? It’s The Wife’s favorite.

    You’re right: the “slimy white worms” were squid (or possibly cuttlefish), but I’m not sure what the “eyeballs” might have been. Good for you for trying it all!

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