Foie gras is no ordinary delicacy. Even the most daring carnivore might grimace when explained the intricacies of 'gavage'.
It takes some chutzpah to want to tuck into an ochre-coloured gelatinous mound of offal, which in one fell spoon-swoop has the potential of making an instant enemy of your wallet, arteries and a hysterical hoard of welfare campaigners all at the same time.
But then foie gras is no ordinary delicacy. Even the most daring carnivore might grimace when explained the intricacies of 'gavage', the force-feeding process by which a pneumatic pump empties a lot of corn down the wiry, thin neck of a goose (or duck) three, four or even perhaps five times a day over a course of several months, leaving the beast at season’s end resembling a fat American kid. Once the bird's belly begins to drag along the ground like some accessorised priceless handbag, it is prepared for slaughter and the fatty liver - now white and glutinous - ripped out and sold to the highest bidder.
Production of a more ethical version is underway in Spain, which despite being expensive is pump-free and works by leaving geese to naturally gorge and fatten themselves ahead of the cold winter months. Ganso Iberico, as this ethical foie gras is called, allows the rarely-kind-to-animals Spanish to score some brownie points with the animal welfare brigade for once. The French (inevitably, as chief goose-stuffers) think this is just cowardice from their Iberian neighbours.
There are movements underfoot in some of the UK’s most dedicated stockists – namely Fortnum & Mason and Harrods - to offer poultry-friendly alternatives. But, alas, we seem to be a bit hypocritical about the whole grisly matter. While production is banned in the country, we still appear to be of the opinion that foie gras is worth the hassle, for a hefty 5100 tonnes – and counting - of the stuff is shifted and sold to British households every year.
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