Foie Gras. The Facts.

July 2, 2012 11:47 pm Published by 1 Comment

It seems that foie gras is a celebrity in its own right.  It is talked about, people take pictures of it, there is always a debate around it and it shows up in  court as often as any female celebrity in her 20’s.  (Foie gras was outlawed in Chicago in 2006 but repealed by a City Council vote of 37-6 in 2008.  It is currently outlawed in California as of July 1st 2012.)  Is there any other food on the market that gets more attention than foie gras?

Foie gras is served at many wonderful restaurants and because of that, I wanted to make sure that servers have all the information so we are as informed as possible.

Before writing this article the only thing I really knew about foie gras was that I loved eating it. If a customer had asked me what kind of ducks were used or where they came from, I would have run to the kitchen to ask our chef de cuisine Joe West and that takes time and resources that we can’t afford on a busy night.  I am now enlightened and hope to help you to become the same.

Facts About Foie, An Article To Help You Never Be Stumped By A Customer

 

     A Story Of How Foie Gras Came To Be

One winter, 5,000 years ago there were some geese that needed to get out of the cold Scandinavian winter. Vacation/migration time was upon them once again!  So, in preparation for the long flight to the marshes of the Nile Delta, the geese ate a lot!  They needed energy for their long trip.  So, they ate and ate and ate until they were full of energy (and a big, fat liver), and ready for the long flight.

The geese arrive, vacation/migration has begun!  But alas, there are hungry Egyptians near and they have their eyes on the geese.  Finally some Egyptians take aim and down a few of the vacationing geese.  They take them home and plan on enjoying the bird with their families over a nice dinner.  And enjoy they did!  Especially the super-fat, creamy and delicious livers.  “Why are these livers so good?” the people around the table ask the hunters.  The hunters didn’t know!

The problem is, the hunters families want that liver all the time!  The wife starts complaining and the children cry, “we want fatty goose liver”!  The hunters are getting agitated and everyone in the community is getting crabby because they want that goose liver year-round. The hunters need to figure out a solution to this conundrum, like, soon!  The hunters start thinking about it…and eureka!, they figure it out.  All they need to do is get those geese to eat a lot, that will get their livers big and fatty, so they “domesticate” the birds and developed a technique called gavage; force feeding.

The popularity of the delicasy spread to Greece, Rome, Europe and 4,800 years later,  America!  For a great time line, check out The Wall Street Journal’s Foie Gras Time Line.

 

What is it?                                                                                                                     

Foie gras is the liver from Geese and Ducks.  Toulouse geese and Mulard ducks are the most common types of birds used in making foie gras.  Mulard ducks are a cross between a male Muscovy duck and a female Pekin duck. Popular preparations are pan searing and torchon styles. Torchon: (in a towel).

Force feeding (gavage) is required to meet France’s legal definition of Fois Gras, very much like Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France to be called Champagne.  The animals are force fed corn.  Force fed birds end up with a liver that is about one pound, the size of a small football.

Force Feeding Birds; Facts

  • The throat of water fowl is lined with tissue similar to the palm of our hand, permitting them to eat live, wriggling fish, spines and all, without harm, or to accept the feeling tube.
  • Ducks are adapted to store food in a sac at the base of throat to take advantage of food when they find it in nature. The capacity of the feed sac is two times greater than the maximum amount ever given in feeding.  (At Hudson Valley Foie Gras)
  • The wind pipe of waterfowl opens at the center of the tongue, not in the throat, so ducks have no need of a protective gag reflex and can breathe normally during feeding.
  • In mammals, fat storage in the liver indicates a problem, in waterfowl it is a normal and reversible process.

The above information was obtained from Hudson valley Foie Gras Website.

There are producers outside of France that do not use the gavage method.  Instead they allow the birds to eat freely, termed ad libitum.  Those livers can be called fatty goose liver, ethical foie gras and humane foie gras.  The trick with producing livers ad libitum is in the timing.  Since the goose will naturally over eat for their winter migration that is when the liver will become naturally fattened.  Slaughter must be at the right time to get quality liver, but still, there is a lot of debate over the quality that comes from such method.  The fraction of foie gras produced from ad libitum is minuscule.


Who Makes It?                                       Whose banned gavage.

  1. France                   78.5% of Worlds Production *WP                    6 of 9 Austrian provinces
  2. United States      1.4%                                                                               Czech Republic
  3. Hungary              8.2                                                                                    Denmark
  4. Bulgaria               6.4%                                                                                Finland
  5. Canada                 0.9%                                                                                Germany
  6. China                    0.6%                                                                                 Italy
  7. Others                   4.0%                                                                                Luxembur

  ↑  Thanks Wikipedia!  ↑                                             ↑ Thanks nofoiegras.org ↑           

       

Do You Think The Courts Have a Right To Ban Foie Gras?

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Where To Buy Your Foie Gras, For Personal Or Restaurant Use

America

House Of Caviar And Fine Foods

Hudson Valley Foie Gras    ←Producer

La Belle Farm   ←Producer

Mirepoix

Gourmet Food Store – Suggested. They have every awesome food a boy or girl could dream of.

Canada

D’Artagnan

Aux Champs d’ Elise

Palmex Farm

Can You Answer These Questions?  I’ll Pretend To Be Your Customer.

    1. Where do you get your foie gras?
    2. What does foie gras mean?
    3. How do you prepare it?
    4. Is foie gras legal?  I thought it was banned.
    5. What should I drink with it?  (The classic pairing with foie gras is Sauternes.  Especially if the foie is served with any fruit. SOme people like to pair it with Champagne.)
    6. Is your foie gras goose or duck liver?
    7. What’s it taste like?
    8. Foie gras is inhumane!  I’ll order the veal. [Tweet this quote]

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Jennifer, iamWaitress
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Jennifer, iamWaitress

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1 Comment

  • Susana says:

    YEAH! Bring it on! Foie Farms right next to the catfish farms…of coruse only a small percent in the state will know what to do with it, but it will be great for our economy to be one of the only states left to supply it, and scare off potential ‘nay sayers’ because we get ‘dirty’ down here. (hence tha dirty south)

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