The rich, nutty flavor of foie gras (French for “fatty liver”)?adds a certain haute class to any dining experience. But animal-rights activists protest the delicacy, which is made by force-feeding geese or duck so their livers swell to many times their natural size. And in California, a ban on foie gras begins in 2012 due to pressure from animal advocates and chefs like Wolfgang Puck.
But not to worry:?New Yorkers looking for some pate or even a foie gras doughnut (check out Do or Dine in Bed-Stuy) won’t have any trouble with the law — and certainly not with the chefs. For David Diaz, chef of Beaumarchais in the Meatpacking district, it’s the ultimate test of skill in the kitchen. “It’s a delicate ingredient. If you don’t use it right, you’re going to waste it; and you’d be wasting a lot of money.”
For Chef Roberto Deiaco of Armani/Ristorante in Midtown, foie gras should stay exclusive. Deiaco grew up on a farm and feels strongly that specialty ingredients should not be overused. “Foie gras is a small part of an animal that is very highly appreciated. It shouldn’t be served at just any restaurant,” he says.
So for now, the barrier between New Yorkers and a slice of goose liver is the one on the right-hand side of the menu: the price.
Foie gras like an Egyptian
Though foie gras is traditionally used as part of French cuisine, it was discovered by the Egyptians. According to Diaz, geese didn’t have to be force-fed in the time of the Pharoah. “Foie gras occurs naturally,”?he recounts. “Back in the Egyptian times, people noticed the geese along the valley would gorge on food before their migration. If you caught them before the migration, their livers would be engorged. They found that it was a delicacy and the Pharoah wanted to eat it.”
For grass not foie gras!
Bruce Friedrich, spokesman for the animal rights organization Farm Sanctuary, believes that there is no excuse for foie gras. “The science on foie gras is unanimous. When you force ducks or geese to eat so much their livers expand to more than 10 times their normal size, that causes death rates among the animals to skyrocket,” he says. Instead, he suggests New York chefs should follow in the footsteps of some Chicago culinary masters, who created vegetarian foie gras alternatives after it was banned there in 2006.