There was a post today at Food Dude’s place about local exotic meat and game purveyor Nicky USA, and their recent score of some choice goose livers. In that post, Nancy Rommelman briefs us on The War Against Carnivores™, including a recap of the last few salvos. She frames Portland’s latest engorged goose liver capture within that context.
In comments, I linked to a post by Michael Ruhlman wherein a colleague of his describes visiting a duck foie farm in France and witnessing the ducks living humane lives, gracefully force fed a diet that includes what one gathers to be the RENDERED FAT OF ITS OWN KIND.
When I first learned of this a few months ago, I was pretty creeped out. The last time I’ve had foie was last year as part of a 7 course chef’s tasting menu at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach (thx bro!), and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It can be quite a tasty piece of flesh, though I would opt for a seared, savory preperation rather than some cold, compressed terrine. That night we ate pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras served atop a seared rare duck breast with some sort of black truffle something or another — it was pretty damned amazing. The foie literally melted away with each bite.
However, I’m not too eager to dive back in. Look, I’ll be honest, the inhumanity angle vis-à-vis force-fed fowl never really gave me much pause. First of all, I eat the stuff infrequent enough (if I have the coin to splurge, you’re more likely to see me opt for marbled steak). And in the back of my mind, just postulating the kind of horrors that are practiced at, say, commercial chicken concerns, why would I of all people draw some imaginary line? Last month, I uncomfortably shadowed an 18-wheeler on the interstate stacked with 2×2 crates, each occupied by a live, hapless chicken. I couldn’t help but to steal glances at the wall-of-poultry monstrosity and shudder at the sheer miscalculated application of cold, free market principles.
If you check out the website for Sonoma Foie Gras, the farm mentioned in the post, you’ll learn:
Guillermo and Junny Gonzalez left their homeland of El Salvador in 1985 to pursue a new venture: The establishment of a foie gras farm in the United States. They traveled first to France where they apprenticed in foie gras production with the respected Dubois family in the Perigord Region.
It could be that the farm that supplies Portland with their foie feeds their ducks their brothers, sisters, and cousins. Or not.
I posted some feigned outrage, but it fell on deaf ears (as a friend of mine says, “I draw the line at deliciousness”). But the more I think about it, the more potentially creeped out I become. Fuck ethics and debating any particular merits of “humanely” prepping an animal for its eventual slaughter. That has little to do with this. There has to be some sort karmic retribution to force feeding an animal, any animal, TO EAT ITSELF. You’re crossing some sort of line of self-restraint — violating some ancient Hammurabic-like code — with this weird, disturbingly fucked practice, like when the dude from INXS hung himself trying to wack off. Mad cow disease seems to me prima facie evidence.
Sure, call me a pansyweight plebe who doesn’t appreciate the delicate art of fine delectables. I mean, look at the title of this blog. But I would feel a bit weird about serving my dog a diet of rendered beagle jowls, or my cat its own testicles.