I can remember the first time I had foie gras. Celebrating the completion of a work project, some co-workers and I headed to Patina. This was back in 2000 when Patina was at the current Providence location. Fuck I feel old.
We all had the prix fixe menu and when it came time to decide between beef and the fo grass, I went out on a limb and was profoundly rewarded. The preparation was seared with figs; it was so rich and satisfying. I just thought, "I can't believe it's not butter."
A few years passed and dozens of preparations later, I'm hearing rumblings about force feeding, fatty livers, cruelty, a ban in Chicago and LA to follow. Could it be that one of the only reasons we keep the French on earth is produced in an excessively cruel manner.
Several organizations have uncovered some of the disparaging techniques including confined to dark sheds, force feed, metal pipes thrust down throats, difficulty breathing and walking, and vomiting.
Martin Picard, chef at the foie gras amusement park/restaurant Au Pied de Cochon and Anthony Bourdain have spoken in support of foie gras. Picard points out that force feeding is only administrated during the last 2 weeks of its 3 month life in pristine farms and the force feeding only takes 5 seconds. Bourdain claimed that only happy ducks produce quality foie gras.
One thing I'm surprised by is that chefs are expected to have a strong relationship with their purveyors. So, how can you watch these 'alleged' production methods and turn your head away if the dollar calls. I'm conscience of my food supply unless it tastes too good, is that the paradigm? It may take customers voicing their concern for the food they are served to radiate up to the chef.
Personally, I'll refrain from eating foie gras and I'd hope that human compassion would curtail its demand. Unfortunately, I think that's a lot to ask of customers; I don't expect much from them. Just spend 30 minutes reading yelp reviews and you'd lower your expectations for patrons as well.
And there is a school of thought that would say there are other more pressing food concerns that take precedent. Maybe they're right. Maybe they're just ducking the issue. I just want the food world to be informed and you can make your own decision.
I'll leave you with a couple videos: Bourdain's supportive piece and one against foie gras production.