Horse Tacos II

Chevaline Chez Métro
January 3, 2014

I've made an auspicious start to the Year of the Horse: horse tacos were on the menu in my kitchen again, this week. This time, I got to share my concoction with a willing friend.

I don't know who else in this province shops regularly for chevaline. But I'm clearly not the only one in Québec fond of eating horsemeat. Every so often the weekly circular for a local supermarket chain announces low per-pound prices. The first week of 2014 brought a good price; I wondered if whoever selected products deliberately picked horse to go on sale the first week of a year in which that animal would have its cycle in the Chinese zodiac.

Adding to the auspicious event: Siliu was still here visiting Montréal when I saw the weekly ad. I asked whether she had eaten horsemeat, before. Though it isn't as common in her hometown of Shanghai as it was out where I lived in China's far west she had tried and enjoyed horse somewhere once before. I think she was equally intrigued by the unusual choice of ingredient as much as by my descriptions of what else might normally go into a taco: a dish totally new to her. I could remember the Chinese words for "cumin", "cheese", and "cilantro" but struggled to describe just what a tortilla is. "It's like a disc of bread that you can wrap the other stuff in," was the best I could do.

Siliu either genuinely enjoyed my horse tacos or put on a great performance raving about how good they were while forcing down second and third portions. Since that dinner kicking off the Year of the Horse she's taken the train back to Québec City. Before she left we did pass some memorable times in places beyond cooking up the odd dinner, together. Unusually, we engaged in petty gambling on a couple separate days.

Dealing Poker Hands
at Cafe, Gare Centrale
After clearing horse tacos off from the table I taught Siliu how to play poker. Lacking chips, we substituted Skittles (彩虹糖 in Chinese, Siliu informed me.) Strawberry was worth $5 USD, lime $25 USD, and grape $100 USD, I declared. I went all-in on the final round and lost nearly half a bag of candy. Another afternoon we went in together on a Loto-Québec ticket: something that neither of us had ever bought in Canada. Siliu pointed out that the jackpot was $42,000,000 CAD. Though high for Québec, I was dismissive. "Lottery prizes often run 10-times that in the U.S.," I told Siliu. "And the chances we'll hit it are probably worse than being dealt four consecutive straight-flushes." All the same, I ponied up my half of the ticket and promised that we would split any winnings evenly, imagining we could beat impossible odds.

This has been such a relaxing break between semesters. It's been far more so spent with a good friend who I don't see that often. Sorry you've had to return to the 9-to-5 back in Québec City, Siliu. I'm sure we'll play cards and make dinner together again somewhere before long.

I've considered a name for my improvised tacos with horsemeat. As burrito is the dimunitive of burro perhaps caballito would be the appropriate parallel name for horse tacos.