Foie Gras Foie gras, French for "fat liver," is a luxury dish made from the livers of fattened geese or ducks. The dish is usually served in fine dining, with most restaurants serving it being upscale and expensive. Foie gras was historically prevalent at many upper class banquets in various European cuisines. It is also still popular in French restaurants, commonly considered a gourmet food in French cuisine.
Foie gras is often served with toasted bread or brioche, fruit such as pear, grapes, figs or chestnuts, and condiments such as caramelized shallots, truffles or balsamic reduction. The traditional accompaniment to foie gras is sweet Port wine, often the vintages of the producers Monterey or Oporto.
Foie gras can be served hot or cold, seared with a blow torch being an example of hot preparation. A more common method in France is to saute it in a frying pan. Some restaurants will serve it in the style of Peking duck, which involves wrapping it in pancake with pickles and sauces such as hoisin sauce or plum sauce.
Foie gras is often confused with "pâté de foie gras," which consists mainly of goose liver (and sometimes chicken liver) and is generally softer in consistency.
The practice of force-feeding geese to produce foie gras (almost always with the intention of fattening their livers) has been around for more than 2,000 years and is thought to have originated with the Romans. The process was made illegal in Britain under the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 and in the US by California law starting in 2012.
Foie gras is made from geese or duck livers, with most producers using geese for their larger livers. It takes roughly three to five days to fatten a liver via force-feeding, but timing may vary depending on the producer's methods. The feeder uses a funnel attached to a tube which is down the bird's throat, through its esophagus and into its stomach.
Fattening geese or ducks by force-feeding them dates back to ancient Egyptian culture. The practice of goose fattening spread from Egypt under Roman rule throughout Europe, resulting in various traditions such as the Jewish shochet, the Italian ciccioli and the French étouffée.
In a tradition known in medieval China as zhaoxing, eunuchs used to fatten up boys in preparation for a life of imperial service. The process was deemed too cruel by western culture, with Winston Churchill speaking out against it in a 1932 article for "Illustrated Sunday Herald".
Foie gras is produced worldwide, especially in Hungary and France, which produces about 75 percent of the world's total. It also happens to be a luxury item with expensive ingredients, making it extremely expensive to produce. In 2010, French farmers made roughly €150 million from foie gras.
Global foie gras production
Despite a decline in production in France, the global production of foie gras has been on the rise in recent years. This is due to increased production in other countries, such as China, Bulgaria, and Hungary.
In China, the number of ducks raised for foie gras production has quadrupled since 2005. Most of China's foie gras is exported to France, where it is used in a variety of dishes.
Bulgaria is now the second-largest producer of foie gras in the world. The country has seen a boom in production in recent years, due to increased demand from both domestic and foreign markets.
Hungary is also a major producer of foie gras. The country has long been known for its high-quality duck liver, and its foie gras is prized by chefs around the world. While production in France has declined in recent years, the global production of foie gras is on the rise. This is due to increased production in other countries, such as China, Bulgaria, and Hungary.