5 April 2005

Foie pas

by Matt Rubinstein at 7:13 am

This is interesting: the New York Times reports that famed chef Charlie Trotter—whose very name has become synonymous with pig’s feet—has stopped serving foie gras, on ethical grounds. And that’s not all:

He says he stopped serving it about three years ago, after becoming unnerved at the sight of farm ducks being tube-fed into obesity. He kept quiet about it, but the conspicuous absence of foie gras from his menus led to rumors in the restaurant world, and he was outed last Tuesday in The Chicago Tribune.

Don’t be frightened, foodies, but this may be a trend – another example of how far the animal-rights cause has come in from the fringe. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year banned the production or sale of foie gras in California. (The law takes effect in 2012, to give the state’s tiny foie gras industry – basically, a guy in Sonoma named Guillermo – time to adjust.) A similar bill has been introduced in New York, the country’s only other foie gras producer.

Even if you don’t think modern farming practices are appalling, that lobsters like being boiled, or anything like that—foie gras is a bit gross. Other chefs are calling Trotter hypocritical, since he’s still getting rich off cookbooks bulging with gras. But the Times says leave him alone:

Fine cooking is fine art, and Mr. Trotter should feel free to use whatever materials he likes. He says foie gras is cruel, but he could have also called it boring – a cliché slurped by too many diners who, we suspect, would swoon just as easily over the velvety succulence of Spam or schmaltz on rye, if they were prohibitively priced and listed on the menu in French. By spurning an easy fix of fancy fat, Mr. Trotter is simply making his job a bit harder, and this man-eat-duck world a slightly kinder place. There is much to admire in that.

And much to admire in an article that finds velvety succulence in Spam, remembers the original meaning of “schmaltz”, and uses them both in the same clause. All the news that’s fit to print!

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