Horsemeat, whose use is surely ancient, has undergone in the course of time many ups and downs. Popes Gregorio III and Zaccaria I, for example, forbade its consumption and still today in many parts of the world and of Italy horsemeat is not used, maybe because of the particular actual relationship between man and horse.
It remains a characteristic food of the local cooking only in some areas: Salento, Naples, Parma and Piacenza.
In the Napoleonic period also in Piacenza equine butcheries were opened, separated from the others, a custom which still continues today. In the second half of the nineteenth century in our city, for health reasons, the sale of horse meat was forbidden, and this favored the clandestine slaughter. Evidently the consumption of this meat must have been very deep-rooted in the territory of Piacenza if
the journalist Giovanni Bianchi in 1869 on the “agricultural magazine of Piacenza” wonders why the municipality continues to maintain in force, in hatred of horse meat, an ancient prohibition that after all does not prevent the trade and consumption among our people” and hopes “to dismiss the public slaughter and the public sale thus preventing our people from smuggling a healthy meat, tasty, nutritious and cheap”.
After World War II and until the 1970s, the consumption of horse meat was very high in our city due to its low cost and great nutritional value.
The most typical dish of Piacenza’s cuisine based on horse meat is precisely the “piccula ad cavall”(minced horsemeat).
Many believe that the consumption of horse meat in Piacenza is linked to the fact that in the past Piacenza was a city of barracks and that the horses following the armies, once their activity was over, were sold and slaughtered.
The “piccula” in the historical moments of popular poverty was usually served with polenta, which was placed in a bowl in the center of which, digging a hole, was poured the “piccula ad cavall”.
The diners ate directly from the common bowl.
In June 2010 the Denomination of Communal Origin was recognized; the recipe that was deposited is by Carmen Artocchini.