Late Night FDL: Happy Mardi (Foie) Gras


I loved Bea Arthur, one of the funniest women in comedy. Maude, her 1970s era sitcom spin-off from All in the Family was groundbreaking. Golden Girls made her an icon. And as the below (semi-NSFW) video, her last performance shows, she never lost her stride.

The day after her death, on April 27, 2009  a letter was released by PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, from Bea Arthur to acclaimed chef Curtis Stone, pleading with him to stop using foie gras. That was, according to PETA, her dying wish. Arthur was an honorary director for the animal rights group.

Arthur also campaigned to get foie gras banned in California, and that ban will take effect in July of this year. Chicago tried the same thing in 2006, passing a law than forbade the sale of fatted duck liver. The ban lasted four months. During the verbotten time, foie gras was neither gone nor forgotten: Chefs simply got around the restriction by offering expensively priced salads and entrees with a gratis garnish of gras. Which is exactly what a couple chefs I’ve spoken with in Los Angeles intend to do.

The California law, signed by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would not prohibit the sale of foie gras but also its production. There are  only three farms, all USDA certified,  that fatten ducks in the United States, two in New York, the other is in California.

The most dire affect of the ban will be on Sonoma Valley’s Sonoma-Artisan, that will be forced to stop production completely by the date the ban goes into effect. Currently, Sonoma-Artisan supplies about 10%–15% of the domestic foie gras market, according to Guillermo Gonzalez, co-owner of the business with his wife, Junny. Sonoma-Artisan is a family business and the couple’s daughter, Helena, is now involved, as well. The Gonzalez family has been in Sonoma County since the 1980…The last 10 years have been increasingly difficult for them and their business. While sales are stable, the cost of grain continues to rise faster than conceivable increases to the sale price of foie.

And because I can! And because this headline writer did:

They just write themselves, don’t they? Maybe for Lent I’ll give upmake poop jokes….nah.

28 Responses to "Late Night FDL: Happy Mardi (Foie) Gras"
DrDick | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:08 pm 1


I am afraid that I have absolutely no sympathy for PETA.

storyofo | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:14 pm 2

> I am afraid that I have absolutely no sympathy for PETA.

I do. I like animals to be treated ethically.

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:15 pm 3

PETA is a provocative group.

AitchD | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:16 pm 4

There are only three farms, all USDA certified, that fatten ducks in the United States …

Are they all insured by Aflac?

DrDick | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:16 pm 5
In response to storyofo @ 2

I support the ASPCA, but not PETA, which is extremist and counterproductive.

Kelly Canfield | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:35 pm 7

You know, a thing I’ve never really quite grasped is WHY the means of fattening the duck or goose is so important.

Generally, the liver is made into a pâté. Not always. But the finer ground the pâté, the more smooth it is without adding fat is preferred.

Well, so fucking what! Just add the damn fat and grind away!

exkiodexian | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:42 pm 8
In response to DrDick @ 5

PETA counterproductive? Hardly. In fact, PETA single-handedly had a brutal animal testing lab shut down last year, the first time in history such a lab was closed.

Stop with the PETA bashing. If anything is counterproductive, it’s PETA bashing. It’s also tired. PETA has accomplished more in it’s short history than any other animal rights organization.

exkiodexian | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:44 pm 9
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 7

The “why” in the case of fois gras is because it’s not just fattening. The geese are force fed until their livers become diseased. It is the diseased liver, which there is no other means of creating, these people are after.

It’s sick to the core and brutal. As with all factory farming practices (gestation crates, veal crates, de-beaking, de-toeing, tail-docking, battery cages, and on and on …) no civilized society should accept.

AitchD | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:45 pm 10
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 7

In France if you buy it to take home (in a container) it has a nice layer of the fat on the top, and it can be served that way, comme the marbled rind on a Camembert. Indescribably rich and delicious. Doubtless it inspired the Oreo but inverted.

sixgill | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:45 pm 11

Love it: Arnie would sign a bill to stop foie gras, but never a bill to protect California workers. The man must have had effete yet cold sensibilities, at the end of the day, horrified by pate even as he could never imagine the server who brought it having any rights.

sixgill | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:46 pm 12

As for PETA, any organization that brings nude models (ok, activists) to my local street corner can’t be TOO far off track.

(Seriously, I respect PETA though I don’t agree with them on everything.)

exkiodexian | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:49 pm 13
In response to sixgill @ 11

Yeah, I don’t think force feeding geese until their livers are diseased is comparable to a server’s problems. Or are you one of these believers in the “magical mystical people first queue”? You know, where we solve ALL HUMAN PROBLEMS before we even attend to animals. Sounds like it.

exkiodexian | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:51 pm 14
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 7

Ah, sorry Kelly. I didn’t see that you were a chef. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the fois gras battle, it’s this: Chefs aren’t the brightest bulbs.

What else can be said about people who compare the coming fois gras ban to prohibition? Like I said, not the brightest bulbs those chefs.

AitchD | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:52 pm 15

PETA single-handedly had a brutal animal testing lab shut down last year…

Single-handedly thanks in no small way to me and many others who contribute money to PETA’s great mission.

Kelly Canfield | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:57 pm 16
In response to exkiodexian @ 14

Thanks for stepback #1, now prepare to make stepback #2.

Many many chefs have moved off of pâté of livers in favor of many varieties of terrines, which accomplish much of the effect, with many more available varieties of ingredients, including all vegetable.

Chefs are smart and creative – not dim.

My hunny Christopher makes an excellent terrine of mixed mushrooms with red wine that is just fucking awesome.

AitchD | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:57 pm 17
In response to exkiodexian @ 13

There’s a thread downstairs where most of the commenters are HEARTING the whale-slaughtering Icelanders (for their money-toughness).

CTuttle | Tuesday February 21, 2012 08:57 pm 18

Happy Fat Tuesday, Lisa and ln pups…! I admire PETA’s intentions, but, I don’t agree with some of their tactics..! However, they seemingly are effective…!

Lisa Derrick | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:12 pm 19
In response to exkiodexian @ 8

There is fois that comes not from the forced feeding, but from the geese readying themselves for migration (transitinal foie gras). That too would be banned.

marymccurnin | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:14 pm 20

Mardi Gras Baby! My family is partee-ing in NOLA tonite. wish I was there.

sfmikey | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:25 pm 21

Well, it has a really icky undertaste to boot.

Don’t care for organ meats, generally. Used to be a vegetarian. But we’re omnivores. Jeezy beezy, you can’t drink a V-8 without a percentage of aphids and grubworms. But I can pass on liver. Forever.

(Gave up pickled eel for Lent.)

anwaya | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:26 pm 22
In response to exkiodexian @ 9

Except that it’s not true that force feeding is the only way, in fact geese will do it to themselves.

There is a TED video from 2008:

There was a story from the same Spanish farm recently on NPR.

AitchD | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:32 pm 23
In response to sfmikey @ 21

There’s a delightful scene in The Tin Drum, fishing for eel. They send out a decomposed horse’s head on a line from the shore, wait awhile, pull in the line and remove all the squirming eels that crawled in through the ear holes, eye sockets, and wide grin.

sfmikey | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:38 pm 24
In response to AitchD @ 23

Yikes. I think I remember reading that the best eel harvest in France was after the Normandy invasion. (True?)

Kelly Canfield | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:39 pm 25

I really don’t know a whole lot of people clamoring for pâté de foie gras actually. That’s probably some uppercrust crowd for the most part.

But I do know a lot of folks looking for interesting food in fun ways to eat it.

We have a small version of this fish mold.

What Christopher does is mandolin some cucumber and lay it on the inside of the mold, then pack it with a whipped mix of cream cheese, creme freche and salmon & spices.

Works a little more with the presentation, some crackers, and WHAMMO for about $4 its a beautiful thing to share and eat on an appetizer basis.

sfmikey | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:50 pm 26

Here’s one for you. Got leftover pizza? (I know, cold day-old pizza & beer is the breakfast of champions.) But tear off the cheese and all the fixings, and use it to make the cheesey delicious fillings of an omelet. It works!

I burn water, but even I made a great omelet this way.

CTuttle | Tuesday February 21, 2012 09:56 pm 27
In response to sfmikey @ 26

I burn water…

*snort* But, oddly it does sound delish…! ;-)

sfmikey | Tuesday February 21, 2012 10:09 pm 28

And also keep a silver bowl of fresh, beautiful apples by the bed. That way, the morning after, you’ll always have something to eat, food on the stomach, a natural breath-freshener, teeth-cleaning, and you won’t even have to move. Neat. (Learned this from a French friend.)

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