1st Course: Torchon of Foie Gras

1st Course: Torchon of Foie Gras (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)

Here’s an excellent blog post on Chow! (Farewell to Foie Gras) talking about the pros and mostly cons of foie gras and why people who love foie gras will only be permitted to eat the delicacy in other states like Arizona. (Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails in Tucson serves a burger with foie gras.)

Some of you might be scratching your head wondering what is the controversy about foie gras?

According to Wikipedia, foie gras (fwaw graw) is French for “fat liver” and is a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. This fattening is typically achieved through force-feeding corn, according to French law, though outside of France it is occasionally produced using natural feeding.

Foie gras is a popular and well-known delicacy in French cuisine. Its flavor is described as rich, buttery, and delicate, unlike that of an ordinary duck or goose liver. Foie gras is sold whole, or is prepared into mousse, parfait, or pâté (the lowest quality), and may also be served as an accompaniment to another food item, such as steak. French law states that “Foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France.”

The production of foie gras (the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened) involves the controversial force-feeding of birds with more food than they would eat in the wild, and more than they would voluntarily eat domestically. The feed, usually corn boiled with fat (to facilitate ingestion), deposits large amounts of fat in the liver, thereby producing the buttery consistency sought by some gastronomes.

Animal rights and welfare activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Legal Defense Fund contend that foie gras production methods, and force feeding in particular, consist of cruel and inhumane treatment of animals. Specific complaints include livers swollen to many times their normal size, impaired liver function, expansion of the abdomen making it difficult for birds to walk, death if the force feeding is continued, and scarring of the esophagus.

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