If you are a vegetarian, or a person of a naturally squeamish disposition, please refrain from reading any further.
Click on one of the links in the ‘favourite sites’ menu to the right, for an alternative source of entertainment. Except JonnyB’s private secret diary, because yesterday’s post was a veritable bloodbath involving the dismemberment of hares, and you probably won’t like that either.
It is our office Christmas lunch today. Lunch, as opposed to dinner or party, so as to avoid the kind of lecherous, drunken, fesses-photocopying debauchery that typically goes on during office Christmas parties where Brits are involved. This is probably A Good Thing, as I think we are all out of A3 paper.
Instead we will be partaking of a gourmet, civilised meal in a very fine Parisian establishment located inside the Gare de Lyon railway station. It’s not your average station snackstop. If you have seen Luc Besson’s French film ‘Nikita’ (not the nasty Hollywood remake), you may remember ‘Le Train Bleu’ (pictured above) as the posh restaurant where Nikita executes a complete stranger before making her memorable exit via the kitchen garbage shoot.
As is customary over the Christmas season, the menu features foie gras as a starter. It will be my first foie gras of 2004, with more to follow on Christmas Eve when we have Christmas dinner with the EVILs (EVil-In-Laws).
Foie gras (literally: fat liver) is one of those foods which tastes very nice indeed (in moderation) but it does you no good whatsoever to reflect on how it is made. Being a glutton for punishment however I have done some background reading on the subject and am now beginning to wish I had opted for the moelleux aux champignons instead.
Ducks and geese are overfed with corn (using a kind of funnel or catheter inserted forcibly into their throats) over a period of several weeks prior to ‘harvesting’. A process charmingly referred to as ‘cramming’, which enlarges their livers to approximately ten times their natural, healthy size. Anti-foie gras campaigners refer to this delicacy as the ‘fur of the food trade’. To protestors this technique equals torture. To its defenders, it is simply farming.
Allegedly humans’ fondness for this luxury food came about when the livers of ducks and geese were consumed in Ancient Egypt during their ‘winter sun’ holidays. As the birds had gorged themselves in preparation for their migratory journey, their livers were naturally swollen with stored fat. Defenders of foie gras are anxious to point out that a fattened liver is not synonymous with a diseased liver, so it is inaccurate to say that this luxury food is nothing more than cirrhosis on your plate.
Strangely, it is not the decidedly unpleasant desciptions of ‘cramming’ that are causing my appetite to falter. It is the use of the word ‘lobes’ on one website which helpfully explains that foie gras entier is made from one or more ‘entire liver lobes’. Lobes? Not on my plate. Let it not be said that Petite Anglaise is a lobe eater.
Foes of foie gras will be pleased to note that Arnie has outlawed (I won’t say ‘terminated’) foie gras produced by inhumane methods in California, in a bill which will come into force in 2012. So that gives producers another seven years or so to devise a ‘humane’ method.
I wish them luck. It may turn out to be even trickier than trying to persuade the Tadpole to eat her greens.