Foie gras (French: ‘fatty liver’) is a luxury food that seriously divides opinions. It’s hard to think of any more controversial dish that you can eat without breaking the law (but we’ll come back to that below).
Gourmets prize it as the last word in richness and subtlety of flavour. Animal rights activists condemn the barbaric and grotesque manner of its production. Let’s set aside the hype and look at the facts.
Put simply, foie gras is the liver of ducks or geese that have been specially fattened. However, the words ‘specially fattened’ are a bit of a euphemism; the traditional method of fattening (gavage) involves force-feeding the bird through a tube with corn boiled up with fat. This process is carried on for two or three weeks before the bird is slaughtered.
Source: Not Delia: Is foie gras cruel?
Despite the controversy over the production method it’s still a highly sought-after delicacy because of its unique creamy, silky texture and flavour. Goose is usually considered to have a better flavour and a finer texture than duck liver and is the more expensive of the two.
The production of foie gras is banned in the UK, but as its import or sale is not prohibited it is still possible to buy it from some suppliers, eg Fortnum & Mason. The production is also banned in Australia, several European countries, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, and several US States. In July 2014, India banned the import of foie gras, making it the first and so far only country in the world to do so, causing dismay among some of the nation’s chefs.
Top chef Anthony Bourdain has been a staunch defender of foie gras ever since it was banned in California.
Not Delia’s attempt at paté de foie gras
Chef Eric Arrouzé’s YouTube video above