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Duckeasies float foie gras ban

Chicago chefs are risking a foie gras felony, by continuing to sell the delicacy at Chicago's duckeasies.

by: Food24 | 20 Sep 2007 reported that even though foie gras has been outlawed on Chicago's restaurant menus some chefs are just not ready to take it off the menu and are now transforming their restaurants into duckeasies. A term coined by chef Didier Durand owner of Cyrano's Bistrot in Chicago.

Foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks and geese through metal tubes to expand their livers up to 10 times their normal size. The fattiness gives the dish its rich taste. It has come under heavy attack in recent years due to the inhumane treatment of ducks and geese, hence the ordinance that now bans it from all restaurants in Chicago.

Foie gras felony
Since it's technically illegal, only to sell foie gras, some eateries are "giving" it away: La Pomme Rouge charges only for the "accompaniments" (i.e. French green lentils, red onion preserve, Sauternes gelée and housemade brioche) and at Cyrano's Bistrot, the "grilled brioche, one slice only," arrives with foie gras two ways. Or at least it did: last week, Cyrano's was visited by city officials looking for the illegal lobes. They didn't find any, but did shut down the restaurant for health violations. However it will supposedly be opening soon again.

Other chefs are trying their hand at faux foie gras. At Copperblue, chef/owner Michael Tsonton serves a duck liver dish billed "It Ain't Foie Gras No Moore" (the last word a reference to Ald. Joe Moore, who sponsored Chicago's foie gras ordinance) that tastes remarkably like the real thing.

Chefs for foie gras
According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune it still remains a popular dish as the Chicago Chefs for Choice, an organisation launched in opposition to the ban, continues to lobby aldermen in hope of persuading them to repeal the ordinance.

Tsonton, one of the groups founders, said: "It gives PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) something to hang their hat on, to push their agenda. They want to make this a vegan society, and they're going to push and take until they get that."

PETA's response has been consistent that gavage, the force-feeding process that creates foie gras, is inhumanely cruel to ducks and geese and see the Chicago ordinance as an important victory.

Bans are under consideration in Philadelphia, San Diego, New York City and the states of New Jersey and Oregon. Leading the protest is advocacy group Farm Sanctuary and its Web site, who promote vegetarian pâté substituting duck liver with tofu, seitan or chicken-style meat substitutes made from wheat.

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