Foie gras back on the menu

Foie gras fans in Chicago won't have to slip into 'duckeasies' to indulge in this delicacy anymore.

by: AFP: Mira Oberman | 20 May 2008

The Chicago's city council has repealed a prohibition on the sale of the fatty duck and goose liver dish, making it legal to sell foie gras.

"It's fabulous!" said chef Didier Durand. "Break out the champagne!"

Durand has been a vocal opponent of the ban on the French delicacy and, like a handful of other renegade restaurateurs, got around the ordinance by serving it for free.

"Yes, I was a duckeasy," he admitted furtively, nervous about potential problems with a pending liquor license.

The word is a play on Chicago's famed "speakeasies" which secretly sold spirits during the 1920-1933 Prohibition era when alcohol sales were banned in the United States.

"We also had a club called Turtle Soup where people were handing (us) turtle business cards and that meant they wanted foie gras," Didier said.

The French delicacy, made by force-feeding ducks and geese so their livers become enlarged, has been the focus of an intense international campaign against animal cruelty.

Chicago's ban followed a bill introduced in California in 2004 that bans the sale and production of foie gras by 2012.

Mayor Richard Daley has repeatedly called the ban "silly" and said it made Chicago "the laughingstock of the nation" but was, until now, unable to convince council members to repeal the ban.

The repeal passed over the shouted objections of the ordinance's original sponsor by a vote of 37 to six after a council member forced it out of committee.

Alderman Joe Moore said he objected to the fact that the repeal was passed without debate and said he continues to support the ban despite the ridicule.

"It's a form of abject cruelty," he said. "I felt and I still feel it is important to speak out against such forms of cruelty. Chicago's ordinance did just that. Unfortunately it was a step back for civilization."

Pro or against a foie gras ban? Tell us what you think.

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