an offally good update

Foie gras bruléed with fruit gelée @

On 11/26/2008, I posted this brief proclamation of my distaste for the vasty majority of offal. I don’t think I realized how bold was the title I envisioned at the time! Or ignorant. As my first commenter pointed out, it’s downright wrong to lump foie gras with other organ meats. Along with caviar and truffles, foie gras belongs to gastronomy’s Holy Trinity of foods, hallowed ground for the aspiring culinary professional. This is my public apology to the food gods for failing to recognize the greatness of foie gras. While I’m personally not completely sold on it, having worked with it and learned more about it and tried it some more, I am beginning to see why people swoon for its silky, rich, my-oh-my buttery goodness. Most recently, we played with it in class, pan-searing the liver and serving it on top of pumpernickel toast with a coulis-type sauce garnished with fresh raspberries. While 9 times out of 10 I’d rather have a damn good burger than a bite of foie gras, I knew that dish was wicked made. And along those lines, being a cook is not about liking the foods that you “should” or that other people, be they Careme or Escoffier, tell you is where it’s at; but about constantly exploring what’s out there and then making those decisions for yourself.

Note to those who have heard of the practice of gavage, by which ducks are force-fed to fatten their livers prior to harvesting: check this video out:

Anthony Bourdain visits Hudson Valley Farms, one of the two leading foie gras producers in the U.S., talks to a vet, and discovers that ducks ACTUALLY LIKE GETTING THIS TUBE OF DELICIOUSNESS STUCK DOWN THEIR THROAT. It is NOT an act of animal cruelty. They don’t have the same anatomy as we do, and as painful as gavage might sound to us, it is anything but that for the ducks. As Bourdain sees for himself, the ducks in fact enjoy having this metal rod inserted down their throat, are so visibly eager for this pleasure that they will shove and crowd into line when the feeder approaches. Gavage also happens (not entirely by coincidence) during the period when ducks naturally begin fattening up for their winter migration, and thus doubly appreciate this delectable dose of food being “forced” upon them. So if you’re one of those people who may have been misinformed about how foie gras is made, I encourage you to re-evaluate your stance and join the not-so-dark side.