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Chicago is the first city to ban foie gras


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#31 ulterior epicure

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:01 PM

But really, I don't see how they can enforce this. If a restaurant puts "duck liver" on the menu and claims it isn't foie gras, and shows a receipt labeled "natural duck liver," how are they going to determine that the duck was force fed?

As I emailed to another eGulleter on this very point,

Misquoting dear Shakespeare, "foie gras by any other name tastes just as damn good!" :raz:

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#32 Bobby 2 Shakes

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:03 PM

What a bunch of gloomy Guses!

Can't you see Chicago is trying to bring back the glamour of the Speakeasy age? Before you know it, we'll have old fashioned gangsters like Martin "Pimpaz" Picard, Mario "Bag O' Bacon" Batali, and, of course, Tony "the Shiv" Bourdain getting the whole town worked up in a liver-divvyin' frenzy.

As Frank woulda said back in the old days,

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#33 FabulousFoodBabe

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 04:04 AM

Bullies, wimps, and hypocrites. Much easier to take down a foie gras producer, than it is to take on Tyson.
"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office

#34 Michael Ruhlman

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 04:58 AM

Chicago City Council What a bunch of showboating ignoramuses. How embarrassing for Chicago. It's the kind of thing you'd expect in Cleveland.

#35 Varmint

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 05:37 AM

Isn't there some sort of law in North Carolina saying you can't serve any meat cooked red or pink?  I can't remember if that's how the law reads, but that's how the waitress described it to me when I wanted a simple burger medium rare.  Nope, couldn't get it.  Illegal. 

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Let's not get off topic, but unless meat is freshly ground on the premises, burgers must be cooked to medium well. Fortunately, I know lots of places where they grind it themselves. Moreover, many places will cook it the way you want regardless. But this is a food safety issue, not a moral one. So back to the discussion on foie gras, which I just might have to have for lunch today.
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#36 hazardnc

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 05:46 AM

So back to the discussion on foie gras, which I just might have to have for lunch today.


No kidding! Suddenly, I am craving the stuff. :raz:

#37 Lady T

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:04 AM

But really, I don't see how they can enforce this. If a restaurant puts "duck liver" on the menu and claims it isn't foie gras, and shows a receipt labeled "natural duck liver," how are they going to determine that the duck was force fed?

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I would guess that the difference in flavor and texture between livers from birds that have and haven't been gavaged would be plenty apparent to anybody with a palate. I do not generally include Chicago's foodservice inspectors in that category, however. Their primary imperatives have to do with sanitation and, to a lesser degree, worker safety, and there aren't enough of them to say with a straight face that those jobs are effectively done at this time.

And now the inspectors who are accustomed, for the sake of public health, to watch out for cockroaches, mouse pellets, stale-dated dry goods, and unwashed hands are going to go on bootleg liver patrol? What kind of raises do they get for this addition to the job description? Who's going to train them? How?!?

Angry as I am that the City Council is making our city a laughingstock over this, I intend to be one of the ones leading the laughter -- because major public ridicule is the one thing (beyond the Mayor's known opposition) that will turn the Council around.

Don't call City Hall. Call Second City.

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#38 scordelia

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:11 AM

I would guess that the difference in flavor and texture between livers from birds that have and haven't been gavaged would be plenty apparent to anybody with a palate. 

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Well, Ald. Joe "Gooses" Moore though sponsoring the bill, admitted that he is not sure that had ever eaten foie gras and did not know what it tasted like. If the numbskulls who voted for the damned thing can't tell foie gras from chicken liver (and at $90K annual salary plus whatever they got going on the side, they certainly could endeavor to find out), then how would the less well-paid food inspector or cop deal with this?
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#39 ulterior epicure

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:15 AM

I would guess that the difference in flavor and texture between livers from birds that have and haven't been gavaged would be plenty apparent to anybody with a palate.  I do not generally include Chicago's foodservice inspectors in that category, however.

Personally, even thought I'm not the biggest fan of foie gras, I would have to admit that the texture is remarkably different. Fattened goose foie gras is much silkier and more delicate that duck liver.

But, as a point of clarification, does anyone know whether foie gras, technically/legally refers to gavaged goose liver, or if it just refers to the liver of any gavaged fowl... that is, has the city of Chicago banned fattened goose liver specifically (meaning fattened duck liver is okay), or have they banned the liver product of any/all gavaged fowl?

Don't call City Hall.  Call Second City.

1. Laughable, indeed!
2. With this sorta nonsense, Chicago has permanently conceded itself to the backseat - living up to its hard-earned title! With the recent storm of super-star chefs coming out of Chicago, I was really thinking that Chicago was poised to be a new gastronomical capital... it seems that it can't be that now. :sad: Not that foie gras is the be-all end-all of good food, it's more of the city's attitude toward the diversity of food that is limiting, and that I (and I suspect others on this forum) find troubling.

u.e.

Edited by ulterior epicure, 27 April 2006 - 06:16 AM.

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#40 Nina C.

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:31 AM

This topic leaves me wondering if the US has ever before banned a food on moral grounds - sure there was alcohol and see how far that got us. But that was more about its effect on its imbibers rather than how it was made, killed, prepared etc. For example, are these mythical delicacies from other countries like dog, chicken embryo, etc. not available here because the public would object or because of formal legislation?
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#41 Joe Gerard

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:34 AM

This is an outrageous act by a bunch of ill-informed, hypocritical, headline grabbing politicians. And yes, without the publicity Trotter gave to this subject we would have been a long way from where we are today. When I dined there in October he had no problem serving rabbit and veal, no less (both were tasteless, so maybe that's his criteria for what is allowed on his menu).

By the way, unless you are nuerotic, you can eat your burgers rare, your eggs runny and your cheeses raw if you are even slightly judicious about your sources.

And Au Pied de Cochon is my favorite restaurant in the world.

#42 FabulousFoodBabe

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:35 AM

Chicago City Council  What a bunch of showboating ignoramuses.  How embarrassing for Chicago.  It's the kind of thing you'd expect in Cleveland.

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:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
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#43 ulterior epicure

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:45 AM

By the way, unless you are nuerotic, you can eat your burgers rare, your eggs runny and your cheeses raw if you are even slightly judicious about your sources.

True, true... but I think the issue here is one of morality (or characterized as such).

Although the government can warn us of certain dangers, we, as consumers, ultimately have the choice in what we eat: ie. shellfish, raw meats, unpasteurized dairy products, tobacco products, etc... Now, there are certain things that the government/FDA has identified as so toxic that no reasonable consumer should consume them, unpasteurized under-aged cheeses, for example - and these are legally banned. But, even many of these items are questionable - and new scientific studies are constantly wavering. The one product that comes to mind is Szechuan peppercorns (a Chinese spice), which were outlawed until recently on the claim that they were highly carciniogenic.

Our government has also banned foods on the basis of environmental/natural preservation (e.g., forbidding certain products derived from endangered animals). Beluga caviar jumps off the top of my head right now.

Here, I think that Nina C. has identified the more cogent issue: morality. And to tell the truth, other than alcohol, I can't readily think of another food item that the U.S. has banned on the basis of morality.

ulterior epicure.

Edited by ulterior epicure, 27 April 2006 - 06:48 AM.

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#44 yellow truffle

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:05 AM

NYT chimes in.

The ban, adopted on a vote of 48 to 1, makes "food dispensing establishments" — restaurants and retail stores — subject to a fine of $500 for selling foie gras. The ordinance, which takes effect in 90 days, will be enforced by means of citizen complaints, said Joe Moore, the alderman who sponsored it.


"Today Chicago made a historic, kind statement, and I think its ramifications will be felt in other parts of the country," Mr. Bauston said.

Lookout Cleveland, you're next.

#45 Pitter

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:08 AM

A couple of corrections, not that I'm any expert:

Szechuan peppercorns were banned because of the canker virus, not some cancer virus. The canker virus can contaminate citrus trees, and the fear was that Florida and California trees could become infected like a plague. They ARE NOT carcinogenic! The reason the ban was lifted is because the exporters agreed to irradiate them before shipping, thus sterilizing them.

Virtually all foie gras in this country and Canada comes from ducks, not geese. The main reason for this is that geese require much more time, hence are not at all cost effective for the farms. Occasionally, Hudson Valley raises a few geese, such as at Christmastime.

Edited by Pitter, 27 April 2006 - 07:10 AM.


#46 ulterior epicure

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:10 AM

"Today Chicago made a historic, kind statement, and I think its ramifications will be felt in other parts of the country," Mr. Bauston said.

Lookout Cleveland, you're next.

Let's hope Michael's way with charcuterie isn't an index on his ability to foretell the future! :wink:

Chicago City Council  What a bunch of showboating ignoramuses.  How embarrassing for Chicago.  It's the kind of thing you'd expect in Cleveland.


Edited by ulterior epicure, 27 April 2006 - 07:12 AM.

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#47 ulterior epicure

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:11 AM

A couple of corrections, not that I'm any expert:

Szechuan peppercorns were banned because of the canker virus, not some cancer virus.  The canker virus can contaminate citrus trees, and the fear was that Florida and California trees could become infected like a plague.  They ARE NOT carcinogenic!  The reason the ban was lifted is because the exporters agreed to irradiate them before shipping, thus sterilizing them.

Thanks for the catch. I stand corrected.

u.e.
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#48 FoodMan

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:31 AM

he doesn't like the flavour of North American beef


A little OT, but I have to disagree with him! American beef is one of the best in the world!

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#49 Gastro Nomos

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:37 AM

The outright ban strikes me as particularly short-sighted. If the council is concerned about the humane treatment of ducks and geese, why not establish a moratorium on foie gras for the next year or so, leaving it up to producers to prove that their methods are indeed humane or to adopt methods that the council accepts as humane? This is closer to what has been attempted in California with f.g. and with Caspian caviar. In the latter case it was an issue of sustainability rather than humane treatment, but the logic still applies. I don't think any f.g. lover would mind if producers were encouraged to use the most humane methods possible. Maybe the producers could make their case, maybe not. But it would be far more reasonable than this ban.

#50 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 07:41 AM

The outright ban strikes me as particularly short-sighted.  If the council is concerned about the humane treatment of ducks and geese, why not establish a moratorium on foie gras for the next year or so, leaving it up to producers to prove that their methods are indeed humane or to adopt methods that the council accepts as humane?  This is closer to what has been attempted in California with f.g. and with Caspian caviar.  In the latter case it was an issue of sustainability rather than humane treatment, but the logic still applies.  I don't think any f.g. lover would mind if producers were encouraged to use the most humane methods possible.  Maybe the producers could make their case, maybe not.  But it would be far more reasonable than this ban.

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This idea is too sensible. The city council is only interested in headlines, not humane treatment of animals. The approach they took proves it.

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#51 coquus

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 08:02 AM

Buck up, this isn't the end of the world for you guys. I'm sure your favorite chef knows how to make things taste just fine without fois gras. And it will be character building for you to go without, or risk your tails dealing with the seedy, underworld duck wranglers. Ah people, you make this world rich, not fois gras, you.

Edited by coquus, 27 April 2006 - 08:04 AM.


#52 elfin

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 08:03 AM

I wonder if there will be FG shops lining the Chicago borders like the Fireworks places located over the state line. :laugh: Seriously, not only is the ban ridiculous it requires vigilante patrol and reporting.
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#53 Bux

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 08:26 AM

Buck up, this isn't the end of the world for you guys.  I'm sure your favorite chef knows how to make things taste just fine without fois gras.  And it will be character building for you to go without, or risk your tails dealing with the seedy, underworld duck wranglers.  Ah people, you make this world rich, not fois gras, you.

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There's the rub. My people gave up eating other people for ethical reasons.

Hey, I know chefs who can make things taste fine without meat, and others who can make things taste fine without vegetables. Depravation may build character, but eating out is not exactly one of the things we normally associate with depravation or character building. Like I'm going to hand top chefs access to my credit account and say "deprive me." Not eating out on the other hand, might be considered character building.

Nevertheless, the last thing I'd suggest is a boycott which might hurt our favorite chefs who are suffering along with us. I would recommend supporting any chef who picks up and moves over the city line, and although I'd be happy to dine at any number of restaurants in Chicago, I will have second thoughts about contributing to other industries, particularly hotels, in town. Still, I don't think there are enough foie gras connoisseurs to really affect tourism, and that would be as true in NY as it is in Chicago.

It's absurd to suggest they should ban battery chickens next. They should have been much further up on the list of inhumane and unethical livestock practices than ducks scheduled for foie gras production. Logic would have suggested they be banned first, if there were really any ethics or logic involved. This is purely the work of propagandists who have managed to anthropomorphize water fowl, an easy job when you're dealing with bird brained aldermen.
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#54 Joe Gerard

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 08:32 AM

I suggest making your next lunch or dinner reservation at Le Francais. When I was there in October I ate lunch alone, and I mean really alone. So you'll be doing two good deeds - protesting this ludicrous ruling and supporting a gastronomic landmark that needs you.

#55 Bux

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 08:33 AM

. . . .  This is purely the work of propagandists who have managed to anthropomorphize water fowl, an easy job when you're dealing with bird brained aldermen.

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This is where I've stood on the issue since 1999 when self styled animals rights activists caused the Smithsonian to cancel a panel discussion and tasting of foie gras. The event was canceled out of concern for the health and safety of the audience rather than the supposed inhumane treatment of the birds.

Ducks naturally swallow grit and stones. The esophagus of a duck is lined with fibrous protein cells that resemble bristles and does not bear comparison to that of a human. The activists attempts at anthropomorphism are understandable when the intent is propaganda, not enlightenment.


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#56 bourdain

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 09:02 AM

A SIGN OF THE COMING APOCALYPSE

America's Second City compliantly embraces new identity as boobish backwater. New York surely to follow. The deliberate dumbing down continues. Charlie Trotter can sleep tight tonite, comfortable in the knowledge that any geese or ducks with distented livers will soon be diverted elsewhere (though he continues to serve their other parts)--and that we are now one step further down the road to losing a beloved staple of classic cuisine that has been with us since Roman times. Trotter's influence cannot be understated--whatever his motivation or original intent. He provided cover and support for the worst elements of the anti-food/anti-pleasure police.
Respect and deepest regrets to Rick Tramonto who courageously--and at great personal cost--fought the good fight (in spite of some pathetically juvenile public groin shots from Milhouse). To those fine Chicago chefs like Grant, Homer, Paul et al, who will soon have to cook with one hand tied behind their backs--my sympathy. The rest of us shall no doubt soon be joining you .

An additional note: For yet another chilling glimpse of the future--and a sensible, well written retort, see today's New York Times editorial by the wise and wonderful Gabrielle Hamilton. Those miserable fuckwits don't want us eating butter-poached lobster--or moist, flavorful poulet roti either.
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#57 ChefGEB

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 09:19 AM

I was thinking of that it might be fun to run an all foie gras tasting menu for a while, but now I wonder if my time and energy might be better spent trying to run a campaign against Alerman Joe Moore. I wonder what my chances of winning would be?
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#58 scordelia

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 09:26 AM

Can anyone recall the last time in American history that politics were driven by a social, moralist agenda?

Hmmm? Thinking hard?

I'll give a hint--you could have enjoyed foie gras, but not the Sauterne to go with it!

Yes, it was the Roaring Twenties! What do the Roaring Twenties have in common with our current political climate? First, the gap between rich and poor is the largest it has been since the Twenties. Real Estate prices are the highest since the Twenties (really, no kidding--the average price of an apartment in 1500 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago's most exclusive co-op is $3 million. The last time 1500 had prices that high was 1929). The US elected conservative Republican administrations. Also, there are great similarities in the moral climate. The Twenties saw really quite naughty and promiscuous behavior from a certain segment of society and a huge increase in the evangelical movement in another segment. Sound familiar? Except now, we also have to contend with sanctimonious vegans as well as bible thumpers. So, the Twenties banned liquor and we are banning cigarettes and foie gras.

The Depression put an end to all that moralistic claptrap. People stopped caring about what others drank and whom they screwed and whether or not in a state of grace when they had no money. Periods of "moral" legislation tend to come about in prosperous times. Victorian England is a prime example.

If the economy sinks like a stone (which it will eventually), we'll get our foie gras back, and abortion, gay marriage, unintelligent design (take your pick) will cease to be important campaign issues.
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#59 Malaclypse

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 09:32 AM

WOW, what a crock of crap. This does not bode well for the fututure of cooking the good stuff. Seems as if we are all getting pressed to eat Kraft dingles on wonder bread (but it's safe, yaaaay). I know that when I go into work tonight and someone orders a fioe, I will cook it proudly (as if I did not allready!) for soon it could be someone's last foie.

#60 Joe Gerard

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 09:33 AM

Gabrielle's piece could not be more apropos. The last time I ate at Prune I had marrow bones and sweetbreads. If the food police and animal activists/terrorists have their way, these delicacies will soon suffer the same fate as our beloved Foie.