Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Foie Gras Wars

This is not going to endear me to PETA, but I love foie gras. Sear me a piece of foie gras and I'll savor the crispy exterior and the silky interior. It can make such an exceptionally delicious dish, prepared in a multitude of ways. I have no regrets or moral qualms over enjoying foie gras and have no plans to stop eating it.

As I enjoy foie gras so much, I was certainly intrigued when I found a new book about it, The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World's Fiercest Food Fight by Mark Caro (Simon & Schuster, February 2009, $25). Caro is an award-winning entertainment reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He originally wrote a front-page story about the foie gras controversy occurring in Chicago, and this eventually led to the creation of this book.

Caro takes an expansive look at the controversial issues surrounding foie gras. Learn about the history of foie gras, extending back 5000 years to ancient Egypt. Visit farms in the United States and France where ducks and geese are raised for their livers. Explore the biology of ducks and geese to assist in determining whether they suffer from being force fed. Follow anti-foie gras activists on their protests. Talk with various chefs about their feelings, for and against, foie gras. Gain a better understanding of all of the issues revolving around foie gras.

I found this book to be quite engaging, hooking me right from the start. The centerpiece of the book is Chicago, where foie gras was banned for a short time. Leading chefs, such as Chefs Charlie Trotter and Rick Tramanto, in the city were on opposing sides of the controversy, some being quite vocal and adversarial. Yet Chicago was not the only place battling over foie gras and Caro discusses much more than just Chicago.

This is a fascinating story about an intriguing subject. Caro is a talented writer and you won't be bored with his prose. He also presents a very balanced and fair examination of the foie gras controversy. I think it will give everyone something to think about, which ever side of the matter you fall upon. I certainly learned some new things about foie gras.

I definitely recommend this book. And I am going to be following up this review with additional posts about foie gras, based on information from this book. I would like to open up a dialogue on foie gras, to explore and debate the issues.

As I previously stated in my Itadakimasu post, "Let us step back and think more about the sources of our food." And Foie Gras Wars is another step on that road.


Charlestown Culinary said...

This books sounds very interesting, I am going to have to add it to my reading list. I have had a personal debate myself. On one side force feeding of an animal seems cruel, although on the other, having had the specialty around Christmas time in France I admit that I find it delicious.

adele said...

Sounds like an interesting read. My personal view on the subject, though, is that people are getting riled up about the wrong thing.

We've got meat being produced in disgusting conditions on an industrial scale - the meat that is part of the general population's daily diet. Can we tackle, say, the MRSA pork first, and talk foie gras later?

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Richard A. said...

Hi Charlestown and welcome to my blog! You might want to check out my post on Tuesday (3/17), as it deals specifically with the foie gras controversy.

Hi Adele. I fully agree with you that there are far more compelling animal issues than foie gras. And I touch on that in my Tuesday (3/17) post.

Hi Kaylee and welcome to my blog! I certainly appreciate your comment and hope you continue to enjoy my blog. And feel free to comment anytime.