Fois Gras

18 Apr 2008

Friday nite is well underway at the restaurant... Rhonda has everything under control, so I've beaten a retreat to catch up with some stuff at my desk. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day at the moment, to do everything that I need too. Have menu changes to email thru to Simpson Print, together with some wine list updates of vintages.....

I've installed a computor programme for wages after years of doing them manually - and got a quick lesson on that early this week. Amazingly fast,  and is going to be great once I'm feeling a little more confident about finding my way around. I need to go back in and find an employee that I managed to delete this week - he has finished, but I deleted him before calculating his holiday pay - inadvertently!! So am going to be here for a while!


Have just checked out the latest blog on Michael Ruhlmans blog -something I refer to regularly, becos I like his take on most things, and was intrigued to read the latest ( April 17, 2008) on fois gras. Fois gras has become a cause celebre in the US, with activist groups targeting restaurants who serve it, and using extraordinarily extreme measures, to try and force them into stopping serving a foodstuff that these self appointed public watch dogs have decided is cruel and unusual. I've felt for awhile that such a stance is a little suspect, becos fois gras is considered a luxery item in the States, and therefore in targeting it, they are really striking a blow at the 'dillitente rich'. Which is fine, but not consistent. So much of the cheap chicken that is sold in supermarkets in vast quantities, not to mention the beef and also pork, is farmed under truly appallingly cruel conditions, and I am convinced that if the general public were aware of just how extreme some of those environments were, then they wouldn't consider buying the end product. But to target that stuff in a militant fashion, means making people who shop to a budget each week have to examine their consciences, and that would be a much harder sell to the general public. So instead these groups go for the easily targetable, at the luxery end of the market.

I'm suspicious.

When we were in France last year, we were in the middle of fois gras territory, and gavage ( forcefeeding ) is considered a perfectly normal thing to do. there.  In no small part becos the geese and ducks naturally gorge themselves when they are about to undertake the long migatory flights, where they don't stop for feeding. Its an ancient custom, which can be done in a much more humane manner than a lot of modern farming and slaughtering techniques of animals, so it has always felt a little perverse to me, to single it out as a sign of mans inhuman treatment of animals.

I came home  feeling  a little conflicted, becos I'd gone to France expecting to be revolted by the process, and I didn't end up feeling that way. As I said in the booklet I sent out to our cookschool attendees about our impressions, like anything it can become cruel when it is industrialised and the animals are force feed by machines. But done as it was always intended to be, it is not cruel - and I thought this blog captured that sentiment really well. Proved the point actually.

Like anything - misinformation is dangerous in the wrong hands, and its amazing how people can build a cause around something without bothering to check the facts...


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