When most people think of Italian food, visions of pasta and pizza swirl in their mind. Though, there are many regional specialties that might be surprising.
Upon arrival to our Verona B&B, the kind owner pointed out several local places for us to eat and told us we had to try the regional specialities of the area: horse and donkey. Yes, surprising to us, but my husband, always one for trying new things, ordered both in our first dinner in Verona.
I had pappardelle with a duck ragu, which we occasionally make at home; however, in this case, Chris’s pasta with donkey ragu actually had more flavor than what I had ordered.
His second course was horse in a sauce with polenta on the side. I tried a bite of it, and the sauce had a nice taste. The meat’s texture was similar to pork shoulder, though slightly tougher.
I don’t think I would order either of these meats as my meal, but I was glad to have an adventurous husband to steal a couple of bites from. Some may be surprised by my own daring meat consumption, but I thought that since they were regional delicacies, I should at least have a bite. I never thought I would eat donkey or horse, but then again, I could have never predicted that my travels would present the opportunity.
Horse consumption is a hot news topic in the U.S. right now. According to The Washington Times, horse-slaughtering facilities were banned in 2006 with a federal budget plan that stripped United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding for their inspection. In late 2011, the ban was lifted and now the USDA is reviewing applications from potential horse slaughter houses.
Americans will still need to travel outside of the country to eat horse, though, as the slaughter houses report that they will sell all horse meat to other countries.
If horse is not your thing, no problem. Verona has several other specialties, including risotto, and my personal favorite, gelato.