Serve an American horse-meat and you’ll be ushered out of the kitchen and into a psychiatric institution, no doubt. But serve it to folks from Central Europe or Asia and you’ll find yourself praised for your culinary discernment. In his 1859 compendium The Curiosities of Food, Peter Lund Simmonds writes that the “ancient Germans and Scandinavians had a marked liking for horse-flesh. The nomadic tribes of Northern Asia make horse-flesh their favorite food. It has long been authorized and publicly sold in Copenhagen.”
In his 1912 essay “The Wildness of Domesticity” G.K. Chesterton lauds the humble home as “the only place of liberty.” “It is the only spot on the earth where a man can alter arrangements, suddenly make an experiment or indulge in a whim,” he writes.
For its part, the wider world suffers neither experiment nor whim gladly. Indeed, everywhere else a man ventures “he must accept the strict rules of the shop, inn, club, or museum that he happens to enter.” In his own home, on the other hand, he “can eat his meals on the floor … if he likes.”
Written at the suggestion of an English bookseller in St. Petersburg, Harry De Windt’s 1901 travel guide Finland as It Is relates tales of adventure and peril in the titular country’s vast, wild expanses. Tired of shopworn travel guides, the St. Petersburg bookseller asked De Windt to write something that would do justice to the mystique of the land of a thousand lakes. “During the summer season,” the bookseller lamented, “I am pestered every day for books upon Finland. But what am I to do? There are none in the market…. Why don’t you write your experiences? Tell people in England and America how to get to Finland, and how to travel through it as pleasantly and as cheaply as possible, and I will answer for the sale of the book — at any rate in Petersburg.”