In these United States of America, eating horse meat is just not done by most people these days. Yet in this week’s historical view we see three grown men boldly confronting that taboo and raising another sign announcing in big letters “horse meat.” They promise to have it by Monday — inspected by the government and not rationed, so always available as long as there are Montana horses to slaughter.
While the name of the Pike Place Market business offering the equine steaks is the “Montana Horse Meat Market,” the buyer could not know for certain that all this promised horse meat would actually come from the Big Sky Country. They may have wished it were so. In 1942, the likely year for this sign-lifting, much of the Montana range was still open.
Partners Lewis Butchart and Andrew Larson were already selling beef and pork at 1518 Pike Place in the late 1930s, but then with the war and the rationing, they brought out the horses. In a 1951 Seattle Times advertisement, they used the Montana name and offered specialties like “young colt meat, tender delicious like fine veal.” “Montana” is still used in the 1954 City Directory, but not long after.
In the mid-1960s (and perhaps later) one could still find a smaller selection of cheval cuts (the French name for the meat the French often eat) at 1518 Pike Place. Market resident Paul Dunn remembers buying horse kidneys there for his cat. Those humans who have tried it commonly describe the meat as “tender, slightly sweet and closer to beef than venison.” Those who promote the meat might note that it is lower in fat and higher in protein than beef. That is not likely to change the average modern American’s view about eating an animal most view as a pet.
Jean writes: A Mr. D’s employee led me down narrow steps into a basement storage area. She recalled large iron hooks, hanging from the pipes, which had, Mr. D himself asserted, been used for hanging horse carcasses. The hooks were recently removed.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean but most of it uncertain, and more cheese than horse meat. I’ll caption what I know about the pixs below within their frames. [May we remind our readers to click twice and sometimes three times to enlarge these images.]
Finally, neither meat nor cheese Jean. We are looking here into what will be the heart of the future Pike Place Market – a quarter-century later. Rising above the tides and off shore you can see the ruins of what was once the largest structure in Seattle: the Pike Street coal wharf and bunkers. It was photographed ca. 1881 from the King Street Coal Wharf that replaced it in 1878. This is but a detail of a pan of the city. (This also appears in our Waterfront History Part 5, with a more detailed description and in context too of more, yes, waterfront history.) Note the south summit of Denny Hill on the right, and Queen Anne Hill on the left. In between them is the north summit of Denny Hill, and running between the two “humps” of Denny Hill is Virginia Street. The original for this is at the University of Washington’s Special Collections.