Friday, August 14, 2009

In Defense of Foie Gras

This video from Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations is dedicated to a recent commenter named Matt, who wrote:
"I love your site Chef John but if you ever use Foie Gras in any recipe I swear I'll never come back here."

I hope he took my advice to stop visiting the site immediately. I mean, why wait until I post a foie gras video to stop coming? I love foie gras, and think that anyone who works to get it banned is a sanctimonious ignoramus well-intentioned, but misguided.

A fan named Lysa saw the comment and sent me this video. I thought I'd post it to show some of you how foie gras is processed, at this farm at least, and more importantly to give "half the peace sign" some good-natured ribbing to Matt and his pious peeps like minded friends.


55 comments:

Charlemange said...

I have had Foie Gras. As for as animal cruelty is concerned, veal is worse imo and doesn't taste anywhere as good.

Anonymous said...

I love you!

Atticus said...

Oh yeesh people need to chill out; foie gras isn't "evil food". Humans have done a lot worse to food animals over the years.

Anti-foie gras individuals need to look up ikizukuri (live sashimi) or ortolan bunting preparation before going crazy about foie gras. (I'm not asserting eating ikizukuri and ortolan is wrong, just saying giving a goose too much food and eating a live fish are on two different levels.)

David said...

Every time this topic comes up, I remember back to this video just filmed last year:
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_barber_s_surprising_foie_gras_parable.html

A chef's experience with a farmer in Spain that makes foie gras without the gavage. Award winning foie gras, I might add. Well worth watching to the end, as it adds some history to the dish that I'd never known about, but also gives it far more respect than the activists that would smash in the windows of your restaurant for serving it.

Anonymous said...

Tsk, tsk, Chef John, chill out - your foie anger doesn't become you, and while I believe people who use threats to get their point across need to find a more diplomatic and effective tactic, your response is out of character. We love our sweet chef, with his great sense of humor, besides, Matt still hasn't seen you use it so he could still be a fan, and we know you love all who visit here. Right?

Chef John said...

Anger? Not at all. I thought it was pretty funny. And yes, I do love everyone who comes here, except people who say they will stop coming if I use a certain ingredient. They get no love!

Terri said...

It's so interesting how people perceive things differently. I love your humor on this blog and think you've always had an edge to it. I thought this post was very much in character. You don't suffer fools, but do it with a wink (like the underground chef guy and that kids show...yes I come here too much!) btw, i don't eat foie gras!

Anonymous said...

I will second the second comment... I love you and love you make me laugh regularly. "sanctimonious ignoramus?" how could anyone read that and not smile? ;-)

(btw people... i think he does these types of posts occasionally to get a rise from us... look at how many comments so far) did I bust you CJ?

Anonymous said...

forget the chit chat, lets see a foie gras demo!

blogagog said...

I have to be honest and admit that I think that eating foie gras is wrong. Not because of any moral or ethical dilemma, but because liver tastes nasty. Why eat the parts that you're supposed to throw away or give to your dog? What's next, goose bladder fritatas? Chicken feather soup? Oranged duck intestine carpachio?

;)

adri_anah said...

Oh gosh how I love Anthony Burdain!! He is just the definition of awesome :).
If the guy's comment was about animal cruelty, I don't think you can singularily hate foie gras and how its done and be okay with how other meats are prepared.
I do enjoy watching Chef John's meat recipes because they are entertaining and give me some pointers on how to cook my faux meat dishes. Anybody who doesn't like how and what Chef John cooks can just stop checking the site. As simple as that.

-AAH.

P.s. Please make a tofu recipe some day? Pretty please :(

Laine Moore said...

thanks for this post! I had some trepidations about it before, but I feel more educated on Foie Gras now.

Anonymous said...

This video has another take on it:
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_barber_s_surprising_foie_gras_parable.html

Alberto said...

food blog leads to fine cooking

fine cooking leads to foies gras

foies gras leads to anger (to some)

Chef John said...

Hey blogagog, have you tasted foie gras? It tastes nothing like liver.

Anonymous said...

The ultimatum is a little dumb, but I don't think anyone who works to protect an animal they care about is an ignoramus - especially when some production methods (like force-feeding) can be considered quite cruel - lots of places regulate that kind of method, but then again, a lot of them don't.

Not that Matt there is the best defender of the cause, but still.

Chef John said...

i choose the word "ignoramous" mainly because I like how it sounds, but I was also using it for it's original meaning, an ignorant (as in not having all the facts) lawyer. I don't think Matt or other anti-FG people are stupid or unintelligent, just misguided and wrong. I'm sure they are all very sincere and live virtuous lives.

Basia said...

Having tasted of the forbidden foie, I was immediately conflicted by the usual production methods. After seeing both the Bourdain & TED clips, I'm hungry for more of that delectible stuff! Also, as the lucky wife of a hunter, I can confirm that a free life and a humane death produce a superior food product.

tut said...

Chef I never had foie gras before always thought it was expensive liverwurst lol which I like so um what does it taste like an how/where do you buy it? can it be purchased locally and are some foie gras not worth getting ? P.S. please don't say to go out and try it I'm a reclusive hermit and only eat at home lol Thx Chef

tut said...

Chef in the video they had ducks,but theres goose froie gras to isn't there? is one better than the other or um what?

Chef John said...

gaeese are classic, but ducks are whats used in the US. Geese are bigger, so fatter bigger livers.

Chef John said...

i can't describe the taste, but if you google around you can find some to try/buy.

Anonymous said...

@blogagog

Liver, intestines, and many other animal parts are NOT parts you're supposed to throw away or give to your dog. Many types of cuisines use those ingredients, and they taste good too! People who them them are not dogs!

Btw, I've had foie gras, and it's if it's been cooked well. I'm all for foie gras that's been made properly though!

Anonymous said...

Gawd, I many a bunch of typos.

*People who eat them are not dogs!

*Btw, I've had foie grass, and it tastes good if it has been cooked well.

Gloria said...

This ducks in this video are well taken care of, but there are other foie grass farms were the ducks clearly are not having any sort of quality of life. Maybe we should be advocating purchasing foie grass from reputable farms, not just anywhere. Similar to buying organic meat over conventional...

here is how a conventional foie grass farm is run:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ty12yCVXqQ

Seth said...

C'mon now, Chef. Shrug it off! We LOVE you, LOVE your site, LOVE your food, and I know I speak for many when I say we can't wait to see your Foie demo on the site. But please don't get testy with "half peace signs," "ignoramus" and such.

Just stay funny and swing back with more gorgeous food! BTW, besides a foie demo, a tofu demo would be great! A "pre-emptive strike" against the cruelty to soybeans movement!

Chef John said...

Yes, chef should definitely only buy foie gras from reputable farms! others using less than humane methods should be put out of business (through no sales, not vandalism)... and they should be force fed tofu.

btw, I've lightened the description used to described the foie foes.

Chef John said...

AND, to the person that insinuated that I just posted this as a cheap attempt to get traffic and a bunch of comments... I'm hurt! (probably because it's basically true ;-)

milkshake said...

My grand-auntie used to stuff geese by hand. She would sit them in her lap and rammed the dumplings down their throats with a finger. The geese got plumped up in this way to be ready for the Christmas season. Frankly as a little kid I cared more about getting a drumstick and butter on my mashed potato, rather than tasting the liver pate.

The animal rights activists and environazis don't really like animals - they just love to intimidate people and they want media attention and political power for their insane hate agenda.

foofifofum said...

Ahhhh, I love your self-editing. It's perfect! You are being true to yourself, and still giving us the funny and clever CJ we love!

Lucia said...

Apparently foie gras is cruel, so much to even ban it, but not eating shellfish or some other seafoods like lobsters or clams that very usually get cooked while still alive, but because you can't hear them yell or they don't have puppy eyes, it seems to be ok.

Trying to ban foie gras while filling up on lobster is pure hypocrisy.

Seth said...

Hilarious!!!! Thanks, Chef - you rock!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susanna said...

But asking a foie gras seller and a foie gras maker if force-feeding geese and ducks are inhumane, of course they're going to tell you it's not. The whole lecture/argument the guy gives isn't exactly unbiased, is it?

Seth said...

Almost forgot - give us a tease: the picture on the post not withstanding, are you a seared-foie type, or a terrine poached in port type?

Tarabot said...

milkshake - you lose the argument as soon as you start throwing insults around like 'environazis'. And by the way, thanks for proving Godwin's Law - again.

Is force-feeding ever humane? I don't think so. But animals can be treated badly in the production of any type of meat product. To think that it's just the preserve of Foie Gras is ignorant, to use Chef John's word.

Minh "Sa" chau said...

Chef John! Get to the next food network star!

milkshake said...

TaraBot please go away - liberate lobsters or something, cause seriously, they don't deserve to be boiled alive and then buttered for our selfish gratification.

Sherry C. said...

How do you get edit the "Video Recipe Catergories" on blogspot?

Anonymous said...

Hey, how about a sweetbreads demo?

j said...

Travel channel just showed "Bourdain's No Reservations: SF" last week!

Tarabot said...

Chef John, I would like to point out that the video posted is clearly biased. It's hard to believe claims of wanting to "find out the truth" right after Bourdain indulges in vegan-bashing and, yep, name-calling.

Some points made in the video can be countered quite easily. For example, the vet argues that birds naturally deposit fat in their livers. But this does not mean that the extreme deposition of fat inherent in foie gras is natural. An observation that goes unmentioned in the video is the indoor, high-density living conditions of the birds. They certainly don't look anything near free-range to me, although I could be mistaken.

EU research has proven that "force feeding, as currently practised, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds". And the fact remains that many well-informed chefs choose not to work with foie gras.

Chef John said...

"many well-informed chefs choose not to work with foie gras." Yes, absolutely, but many well-informed chefs choose to work with foie gras.

That's the point, everyone should decide for themselves.

granny said...

Only had fole gras once or twice. I thought my taste buds went to heaven. What is all the fuss about.

Anonymous said...

Living in Argentina I can assure you that we do not throw the offal out! Sweetbread, kidneys liver and other things are alll used for humans, and I say thank god for that!! its good eating! As for foie gras.. bring it on:) When cooked well there is truly nothing better:) I agree that we should look for farms that produce the foie gras humanely..

tonkaslim said...

It's best with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Dootsie said...

I am not well-versed on the issue, but I am concerned regarding the price of the fois gras in question. It seems as though cruel fois gras farms certainly would exist for the price point and faster production.
It's nice that there are farms that take good care of their ducks, but is this typical of every farm?
I doubt it.
And I think it's not right to declare a win for fois gras based on the argument that "It's really delicious and these farms do it right, so it's fine."

Tarabot said...

Chef John, informed decisions are what it's all about. Well said.

On with the recipes! :)

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO7U0sLMLcw

kindageeky said...

I'm all for a spirited debate among competing points of view, I too have been recently maligned for cooking with Foie ... I welcome the debate, but emotional arguments layered with insults and threats have no place in a functional debate.

Asian Malaysian said...

I love fois gras and agree that (as with all meat production) more focus should made on promoting suppliers who treat the animals humanely and into shaming the rest out of business. I think one of the best thing to come out of all the recent food celebrity hype is the growing acceptance that the better farm animals are treated, the better the quality and taste of the meats they produce. And who wants to waste the calories on eating crappy food?

ghanima said...

Ah, Chef. I do applaud your fearlessness when it comes to igniting a firestorm.

I have never understood why some people make the choice to eat cow, pig or chicken, but become sanctimonious when it comes to eating other animals (such as horse meat) or "cruel" foods (such as foie gras). Eating at all means the death of another (or many) organisms. I give the vegans respect for at least being consistent about their food choices.

That said, until the day you start cooking human, you aren't going to offend my food-related sensibilities (although rhubarb is a sin against nature). :)

Anonymous said...

So much fun. I really do think your favourite ingredient is "can of worms"!

Lysa said...

Whenever I'm having a bad day, I think: at least I don't live in Nepal or Baghdad where folks have it much worse.
I'll bet the ducks would think that if they saw how the chickens destined for our dinner plates are treated ;-)
Thanks, Chef John!

Noz said...

I've never had foie-gras....the picture looks very tasty though. I'd try it once to try.

I cannot stand the process used for veal...it is completely unnecessary and truly cruel...much more so even than how cows and pigs are treated. There is absolutely no need for an animal to suffer to that extent.

With all that said, Bourdain is entertaining...but he's a real arrogant ass I must say.