Cavallo or Horse Wrapped in Speck on Creamy Cheesy Potatoes

Eating Horse in Verona, Italy

I recently read “Do You Eat Dog” by Soleil Ho and it sparked some meaty thoughts.

Before visiting Verona, Italy this last April for a food writing workshop, I did a little research on the regional foods. Learning that horse was very common, I decided I would try it at least once while I was there. I jokingly texted my one friend that owns a horse and said, “You think Cooper will be able to sense that I’ve eaten horse?” She did not answer my question. Instead, she said “It’s extremely dark flesh, like ostrich. Lean. Like bison.” She’s also one of my old culinary instructors.

Piazza delle Erbe Clock Tower
Piazza delle Erbe Clock Tower

We had one evening free from the workshop so seven of us took a van from our villa to Piazza delle Erbe. The restaurant we were headed to was Trattoria Pane e Vino. We stopped along the way to check out Juliet’s balcony which was blocked off. I stepped back and let the others crowd around the iron gate to snap photos. All I wanted to do was get to the food, a common theme in all my travels, but I tried my best to hide my needless impatience. It was about 7pm in Italy. No one eats dinner that early. Except for tourists. Enter: us.

Piazza delle Erbe Pillar
Piazza delle Erbe Pillar
Juliet's Balcony in Verona Italy
Juliet’s Balcony in Verona Italy, Photo snapshot from a video by Mike Vrobel of Dad Cooks Dinner. 

The group mostly looked to me for the wine choice, surely not because I’m the expert, but because I was clearly the one drinking the most throughout the trip. I saw the cavallo or “horse” options on the menu and decided on the speck wrapped tenderloin with cheesy potatoes. Orders were placed. Bacalao mantecado or “salt cod”, cheesy gnocchi, a charcuterie board to share, and more.

Bacalao mantecado or Salt Cod
Bacalao mantecado or Salt Cod, Photo by Lori of Music 2 My Mouth.
Trattoria Pane e Vino Restaurant in Verona Italy
Trattoria Pane e Vino Restaurant in Verona Italy, Photo by Lori of Music 2 My Mouth.

As the charcuterie board was coming to an end and the wine nicely flowing, the room went black and silent. For some crazy reason I brought my headlamp on this trip but left it at the villa. Is this the proper time to use the word, “ironic”? It seemed like quite a while before the lights finally turned back on.

Charcuterie Board in Verona Italy Restaurant
Charcuterie Board in Verona Italy Restaurant
Blackout in Verona Italy Restaurant
Blackout in Verona Italy Restaurant, Photo by Lori of Music 2 My Mouth.

It was Lori (Music 2 My Mouth) that ordered the Veronese cheese filled potato gnocchi in butter with black truffle. Our simultaneous gasps alerted the table when she cut into one and copious amounts of cheese came oozing out. It was a glorious moment that we couldn’t quite capture on video with any of the other little dumplings, so we quit after several attempts. They say the first time is always the best.

Cheese Filled Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Black Truffle
Cheese Filled Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Black Truffle, Photo by Lori of Music 2 My Mouth.

My first course was a baseball sized arincini made with local amarone wine alongside burrata, sautéed onions, and lemon sauce. As the server sat my plate down, the ball rolled right off the plate and onto the floor. Ball two came quickly.

Amarone Arincini with burrata
Amarone Arincini with burrata

After waiting through site seeing, a black out, and a fly ball, out came our main courses. The slices of pork wrapped meat sat on top of a creamy bed of cheesy potatoes. I couldn’t wait. What would it taste like? Because the look and texture is so similar to beef, it’s difficult not to compare it. The flavor was not as strong as beef and very tender to my surprise. Clean, but lean as my friend had suggested and the speck leant a helping hand there.

Cavallo or Horse Wrapped in Speck on Creamy Cheesy Potatoes
Cavallo or Horse Wrapped in Speck on Creamy Cheesy Potatoes

Everyone at the table had a little taste and enjoyed it. More importantly (to me), I learned that I like horse! But I’ll probably stick to only eating it while in Italy. Maybe if I ever find myself in Northern Vietnam amongst the very small amount of people that do consume dog, I’d try it if offered. It’s not like they’re raiding their neighbors’ homes and stealing their pets for dinner. I don’t imagine they’re hijacking horses from riding stables in Italy either.

Would you try horse?

Jillian believes her passion for cooking stems from the fact that she was born and raised in Southern California. The best climate conditions for growing the finest produce all year around and the diverse mix of cuisines have always been an inspiration to her. Her love and ability to make people happy by way of delicious food began at an early age and still grows today. She is the proud Chef and Owner of Jillian Fae Chef Services, a personal chef business specializing in private dinner parties, customized menus, and weekly meal preparation.


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