Foie Gras is Re-introduced in California Restaurants

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If you have been dreaming of the day when foie gras would again be placed on the menu in California, then that day has finally arrived. U.S. District Court Judge, Stephen V. Wilson, has legally sanctioned the sale of foie gras in restaurants once again.

Lifting the Ban on Foie Gras: A Win for Some Chefs, A Loss for Animal Rights Activists

Plaintiffs in the current judgment include Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec, and Hot’s Restaurant Group. This is a big win for the businesses who said that the 2012 state ban on the sale of foie gras was blatantly unconstitutional.

The judge obviously agreed, stating that the state’s Health and Safety Code, Section 25982 was in contradiction to the U.S. Poultry Inspections Act, meant to regulate sales of chicken, geese and ducks. Many restaurateurs are elated by the news, including Stephane Bombet, one of the partners of Terrine and Faith & Flower. Her foie gras was one of the featured dishes on her brasserie’s menu.

Defining Foie Gras

While supporters of organizations that denounce animal cruelty would not be so pleased with the recent verdict, many aficionados of French cuisine have taken the opposite stance, all which makes foie gras a controversial food inside and outside of France. Foie gras (which is pronounced as “fwah-grah”) is a dish that features the liver of a goose or duck that is enlarged by a special feeding method. The dish is served in terrines, as an entrée or in pâtés.Fois_gras

Foie gras, Image Nikodem Nijaki, Wikipedia

The Differences in Foie Gras

In turn, the French goose or duck liver is a delicacy food—exceptionally fatty—with a smooth texture and very rich flavor. Connoisseurs of the cuisine rave that the poultry has a distinct taste of its own, with the goose foie gras or foie gras d’oie defined as milder or more refined than its counterpart, foie gras de canard, which is less fatty but more gamy in taste.

Why Foie Gras is a Controversial Delicacy

While the liver is pan-seared over high heat, it is a tricky dish to prepare as it can also melt if it isn’t carefully and artistically cooked.  The technique that producers use to fatten the liver served as foie gras is called gavage, a type of force-feeding which some consumers believe is cruel.  Some animal rights activists believe that the practice goes beyond the limits of raising livestock or poultry for slaughter.Fois_gras_gavage

Gavage – Image Jérôme S., Wikipedia

So, the controversial liver is controversial because of how the goose or duck is treated before its liver arrives on the table as an entrée. Where do we draw the line in this respect? Are we taking it too far to raise an animal in this manner? After all, foie gras would not be foie gras if the goose or duck were not force-fed. While the liver is a fine and tasty delicacy, it still is associated with a method that is considered less than culturally or culinarily acceptable. Foie gras may tempt the palate but is it really so tempting when you consider its origin?