Last night I sat forward on my ever so soft leather dining chair, in the wine cellar of a dimly lit, expensive restaurant in Beverly Hills, whose decor evoked the spirit of a Free Masonâ€™s get together at a Swedish sweat lodge, and I took in the culinary arrangement that a model/waiter had placed before me. It was at that moment that I was overcome with a plague of guilt.
It wasnâ€™t the fact that I was eating a $47 piece of one of the best Kobe beef fillet mignons Iâ€™ve ever had (cooked to perfection â€˜blueâ€™ as I ordered), when there are 20 billion people who live below the poverty line. Nor did I even attempt to vaguely reconcile the $157 bottle of Californian red that the Sommelier suggested, with any thoughts of the 1.7 billion people who have no access to clean drinking water. No, there was no starving population/ fine dining nexus tugging at my foodie strings. What it was, was the two, fine-cut, lightly grilled slivers of Foie Gras (bringing the steak dish total up to $65) that were topping my Kobe fillet. It was the fact that I knew that I would be far too weak to not eat and thoroughly enjoy them.
â€˜Coup de graceâ€™ is a French expression for a blow of mercy, intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature. It couldnâ€™t come too soon for a goose or duck being farmed for Foie Gras. Foie Gras or â€˜Fatty Liver,â€™ is the French delicacy of overfed goose and duck liver. It is not to be mistaken with regular and much cheaper pate. Globally, animal welfare organizations deem this force feeding practice or â€˜gavageâ€™ and its side effects - resulting from a grossly engorged liver - as animal cruelty. The production of Foie Gras is illegal in some countries and states of the USA.
Despite France being the worldâ€™s largest producer and consumer of Foie Gras, producing 18,450 tons of the 23,500 tons produced worldwide in 2005, two companies in America do produce Foie Gras. Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York and Sonoma Foie Gras in California contribute to the domestic (and some international) consumption of this light and buttery, luxury product.
In order to produce the varying quality ranges of Foie Gras from the absurdly expensive to just expensive, the ducks and geese raised must be force fed. â€˜Foie Gras Entierâ€™ is made of one or two whole liver lobes and comes cooked, semi-cooked or raw. â€˜Foie Grasâ€™ is made of pieces of livers reassembled together. â€˜Bloc de Foie Grasâ€™ is a fully cooked, molded block that is 98% or more Foie Gras (if labeled â€˜Avec Morceauxâ€™ it must contain at least 50% Foie Gras pieces of goose and 30% pieces of duck). There is also Pate de Foie Gras and Mousse de Foie Gras (which must contain 50% or more Foie Gras), Parfait de Foie Gras (must contain 75% or more Foie Gras) and other preparations which have no legal specifications.
The quality of care and measure of life span during which the ducks and geese are allowed to free-roam before being housed in confined, force feeding spaces, is at the discretion of the farm, but they all must force-feed. Generally, the ducks and geese are left to free roam as chicks some months and feed by natural means in order to strengthen their esophagi. A strong esophagus is needed for the two to three week force feeding period that follows. During the gavage period, the geese and ducks have a tube inserted into their esophagus two times daily and are fed a large, pre-measured quantity of nutrient deficient feed (in order to induce liver disease). This process continues until the liver has swollen up to ten times its size, nearing organ rupture proportions (and sometimes they do rupture). This engorged liver is Foie Gras.
There are myriad unpleasant procedures and unjust circumstances that surround the production of many goods and food stuffs that are created for our consumption. It is our duty to be vigilant about educating ourselves on the background of the things we buy, so that we can make informed decisions. This way, we can make the right, individual choices for ourselves. Last night, I made the wrong one for me.
WORLD - CITY LIVING
Copyright © 2010 V
Coup de Grace for Foie Gras Geese
Copyright © 2010 V
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