Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by jamiemaw

  1. All will be revealed when you part with your $4.99.
  2. Au contraire, Lucy! I thought that the author had a very even disposition - a chip on both shoulders! And I zinc ze natural bar lies in wait for thee.
  3. The March, 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine is a special issue dedicated to the cuisine, markets, restaurants, cheeses and boutique hotels of Montreal. Lots (48) of local recipes too. Calling Montreal 'North America's Most European City', the editors go into great detail. Lesley Chesterman leads the batting order with an article entitled 'The French Connection.' I look forward to your thoughts. And although it looks pervasive to an outsider, is there anything else you might have added?
  4. Terrific post, Ken. I would say that your experience largely parallels my own at 'Farm No. 2', near Quebec City, where the husbandry of the animals was paramount. I would eat their product; unforturtunately we cannot access it here.
  5. Bux, I don't know that the author was particulalry cynical in her research and findings; if anything her bias was toward benign bemusement cast in a rather academic tone heightened by an awkward translation with a slightly nasal quality. And yes, her treatise is very much about shopping. Lastly, I would defend your right to be a cynic to the grave.
  6. That is interesting, Jamie, and I think that it's pertinent now. Since this topic came to light I have been walking around with a new set of violet shaded glasses instead of pink ones. But that's good for me, it helps me make better choices. If anything it's bolstering my courage to actually just ask direct questions. I figure that if someone acts offended when I start probing to get more insight on where the goods are coming from, then they might not be legit in the first place. What do you mean about the 'consequences of credit'? I'm not following that. Do you mean lack of doubt in consumer food transactions, granting any sales technique or gimmick 'credit'? I.e. this idea of certain situations where 'suspended disbelief' carries some transactions? I've got the French version on order from the library, since my book budget is spent. I also want to get the flavor of the message in the VO since some subtleties may be lost in translation. ← Lucy, I was referring to 'credit' in its meaning of purchasing something with borrowed money, the most common form being a credit card. Convenient credit is the jet-fuel of consumerist societies and I think differentiates cultures that might purchase what they want versus what they need. This is just one explanation for an entire aisle of variously branded mineral waters at Whole Foods; hence modern food purchasing = mea gulpa. Yours on borrowed time, Jamie
  7. I think you meant Mark Kurlansky. ← Indeed I did.
  8. Eegads, man. I note that Balic has the 'Wyvern' as well, and with my copy, that makes three. Must have been some sort of colonial pandemic; although mine is the seventh edition-perhaps it took a while longer to journey here.
  9. Oh, sorry, should've explained the liver thing a bit more. By the time the duck goes to the Happy Pond in the Sky, certain liver metabolic pathways have just shut down. Others behave normally, and in fact some are performing at better-than-average rates. For those who have the EU study about foie gras around, most of this is covered in section 5.4 (finally! I looked something up), though it's a bit long to quote here. ← Here's the European Union Report that Derrick refers to; look for "Liver Function" in Section 5.4 on page 43, although the rest of the report is certainly illuminating as well. The Report says there is up to a 4% morbidity for gavage-stage birds. As Derrick mentions, the effects of steatosis (fattening) are clinically described. Yes, although I associate the term 'little pooch' more with 'Does my arse look too big in these pants?' I thought quite a bit about it when I saw the effect on the harvested livers; because it had outgrown the protection of the ribcage, it was area of the liver most vulnerable to damage, presumably from the gavage cages - call it the downside of greed. Not so (as I said above) at Farm No. 2, where they stopped the gavage at an average liver weight below 500 grams, still within the ribcage.
  10. Those questions I was a little fuzzy about, but now that I search my memory a bit, I think HVFG and SFG both track at about 1-2% mortality rates. But I can't remember if that's just during gavage, or total. The number is on par with the rest of the foie gras industry (though caged foie gras birds run at about 3%, I think). Again, from memory (I should probably just unearth my notes and confirm all this), broiler poultry is about 10%. Lobes that I've seen from SFG seem to average around 1.1 lbs, or 600g. I thought that HVFG tended to get larger livers, due to a different feeding process (the ducks are ramped up more slowly), but it's been a while since I purchased any (SFG is, for obvious reasons, easier to find here in the Bay Area). See, I'm still fuzzy on these. My editor didn't give me any hard and fast space requirements, but he gave me a rough range to work with. Details I left out were probably just because they didn't fit easily into the text, in the same way that Ed left a lot of biological/physiological info out of his somewhat similar look at "good veal" a few issues prior. There are some things I wish I had put in now--mortality rates, and the very weird state the liver's in by the time the duck goes to the slaughterhouse--but those were more my omission than a requirement from Ed. ← Thank you; you really have been most gracious and accessible. What do you mean regarding 'the very weird state the liver's in?' And were you aware of any distension of the ducks' skin from the 600 gram (1.3 lb.) livers? (I must admit it's not the first thing that I noticed in the riot of the gavage sheds, but once I did, I saw quite a bit of it.) Cheers, Jamie
  11. I'll take your question under review, Karen, as I did Market Day in Provence. I took a particular interest in the book, as I alluded to upthread, because I'm currently researching a chapter about how (consumerist) food procurement has changed over time. Several things that I find of particular interest are the complicity of consumer and vendor; aspirational purchasing (social or tribal validation and the vendors [can you say 'Whole Foods'?] who play to that phenomenon); and the consequences of credit as they apply to the above. A couple of other soon-to-be (or recently) published books that might interest you; to some degree they broach consumerism, markets and are certainly of broader interest: The Big Oyster: New York on the Half Shell by Mark Ruhlman (Ballantine Books). The author of Salt and Cod (but not Salt Cod) weighs in on the impact of the oyster from wampum to Horace Greeley and beyond. I'm not finished yet, but I suspect there is an environmental lesson as well. Sacred Cow, Mad Cow: A History of Food Fears by Madeleine Ferrières; translated by Jody Gladding (Columbia University Press); a gigantic tome by French food historian Ferrières that traces food history from the Middle Ages in continental Europe to Chicago's meat-packing industry. Call it Fear of Poisoning. Of interest to this thread was the time-honoured French tradition of marching beef steers on the hoof to village and city abbatoirs; the theory being that only animals healthy enough for the journey were worthy of human consumption: early verification in exchange for noise and stink. But life was also characterized by epizootics and by the mid-1700s, there were 37,000 local ordinances in France governing the sale of meat. Shopping in the Renaissance by Evelyn Welch (Yale University Press). As quoted from upthread; another fascinating history of the social buy:sell contract with much mention of food, markets and dining, and items from twisted knickers to cheese. Cheers, Jamie
  12. I just can't equate a duck with a person. Maybe if they were domesticated or I knew a duck personally, I could. If it becomes law that we can't eat certain foods, we open the door for saying that we must eat certain foods. ← I'm slightly surprised (given the philosophic and physiological discussion that has always threatens to subsume or even bury this discussion - as it always does) not to see mention of Charles Siebert's article, entitled The Animal Self and published in The NYT Magazine on Sunday, January 22nd. [Note: The original article is now behind a pay-screen, but there are some interesting pro and con discussions via this link]. And now back to regularly scheduled animal cruelty, err, Olympic Hockey.
  13. Derrick, Thank you for your thoughful response to these questions. As I stated above, it's been some time since I read your piece and I apologize if I asked questions that you had already answered in your article. I am still curious about the following two questions, which, given my own experience at least, are also at the crux of the matter, even if the media and animal welfare activists have focussed on the gavage for obvious reasons: I'd also be interested to know if you had a more detailed report to file but were constrained by space allocation. Cheers, Jamie
  14. In Canada, Quebéc is the only province that permits foie gras production. So, not only is it impossible to buy from a local producer, the farm (Number 2, as above) that I would be most tempted to buy from is not licensed to export extra-provincially. I suspect that the same challenge is extant for American consumers. And again, although expert gavage does not appear to harm the animals, there are certainly other stress points, chief among them, as I tried to point out above, the size of the finished lobe. Away from his boss, one of the hands allowed that the distended portion (that part that stuck out under the ribcage) was the 'greed factor'. Although as derricks points out, any contused portions are sold for much less. But they even had a cure for that: a value-added, on-site pâté production facility that produced a myriad of packaged products. I think the mainstream culinary media has badly dropped the ball on this issue - far too late to the discussion whilst promoting yet more cover stories on brand extensions in Las Vegas and interesting ways to torture skirt steak. Editorial leadership has simply been invisible.
  15. Hmmm. Your list of pertinent questions leave me feeling rather impertinent in having made up my own mind on this question. Although my sense of "eat or be eaten" is unlikely to be changed (as I noted, too many years of living in Brooklyn can make one this way) it still would be good to know some answers to that really good and detailed list you had the b. . b. . brains to post. In the sentence above, you note that your experience is that there is considerable variation in several particulars between operations. I believe you, but would like to hear more if you would wish to jostle your pen into giving us more details upon your specific experiences. (?) Pretty please with sugar on top. ← Karen, Here's a report that was posted previously on another thread, however I modified it slightly this morning to clarify extra-provincial export matters, which define my own approach to consumption. Since that time I have interviewed more foie producers, chefs and lay consumers and have visited another production facility. Encore un Foie? The lack of information on foie gras de canard production (for much goes on behind closed doors) prodded me to see for myself in the summer of 2003. I’m certainly no expert on the production of foie gras, and, as much as I love the stuff have become an infrequent eater of it, especially after it became so very ubiquitous, even in inexpert hands (it deserved much better), a decade or more ago. I regret that it lost its purity, became a plaything -- even a cynical hamburger fixing. Whereas in France foie gras is a natural wintertime celebratory food (much is consumed between Christmas and New Year's), in North America it has become commodified, an item for Robb Report readers to add to their iconic lists like a vertical of Petrus, the lists that speak to excess cash flow seeking social validation. But not to sound a snot, for even if this class is bereft of good taste, let's assume that more than one of them knows what tastes good. Although some might say that these type of people only had kids so they could get pre-boarding, I have no opinion on the subject. But not to confuse the issue: Most people, especially those with more than a passing interest in food, eat foie gras because it is delicious and because its unctuous texture is like no other. Foie gras may soon join Chilean sea bass, swordfish, bluefin tuna and Caspian caviar amongst the verbotten for the Prius set, not for reason of endangerment, but rather for perceived cruelty. But what had struck me as I read the little available literature on the subject was the lack of firsthand information. Most people rendering their opinion, on either side of the issue, had not, it appeared, set foot anywhere near a foie gras production facility. It's safe to say that the foie reared in Quebec is exemplary; indeed many Canadian and American chefs who have worked with the three main products (Sonoma, Hudson Valley and Quebéçois) believe it the best foie product on the continent. I had the opportunity to inspect two foie gras de canard farms in Quebéc last summer and was even allowed entré into the inner sanctum—the gavage sheds—which, for reasons of disease control and increasing political sensitivity, are usually off limits. The first farm, south of Montréal, was a fairly large scale commercial operation that is licensed to export product extra-provincially and into the US (and in fact supplies many eastern seaboard US restaurants). It was an unfettered production line with all stages of the process carried out in a carefully controlled environment. Diet, heat, humidity and light were fastidiously calibrated and constantly monitored by computer. It was also a scrupulously clean operation; the main fear being, because of the close quarters, a systemic outbreak of disease. As the ducklings matured toward gavage, their pre-migratory instinct to gorge was seemingly tricked into action (no matter the time of year--I was there the day before St. Jean-Baptiste Day in late June) via the steady diminishment of light and heat (imitating shorter autumn days), and diet deprivation followed by a spate of abundant feed; deprivation; feed. The gavage stage (heavily air-conditioned and humidified) was clinical but expertly managed (the speed of the technique is not learned overnight) from a mechanically-forced machine that follows the operator, although the ducks were held in restrictive individual pens within a shed the size of a small warehouse. The actual gavage took just a few seconds. The shed was cold and wet, and the ducks were certainly not running to be fed -- they couldn't budge. The pens were suspended above frequently flushed concrete floors; the shed smelled much as you might expect. Although the ducks did not appear to protest the gavage, which, again, was both swift and expert, there is simply no way—short of inviting Dr. Doolittle to the party—to know. (A little like being at the dentist with wadding and a rubber dam in your mouth when he asks you the quality check question). But neither did we see any evidence of animals squealing or otherwise behaving in an obviously distressed manner. Although I asked on more than one occasion, the precise (mainly corn) composition of diet for the ducks is closely guarded; it would be unfair to speculate what, if any, medications might or might not be added to their feed. But it was obvious even to an outsider that bacterial or viral disease could be commercially lethal to this type of closed facility. What struck me most about this operation though, was the very large size of the finished liver. At over 600 grams, the liver distends below the animal’s ribcage and has an exterior appearance, prior to their trip to the abbatoir, not unlike a human hernia poking through skin. This is the portion of the liver most likely to be damaged or bruised, et voila—pâté . All of the parts of the duck carcass were packaged in cryovac and sold, in large part to restaurants: the foie, trimmed breasts, value-added legs en confit and pâté, and the carcass for stock. The second farm, located near Quebéc City, was a somewhat different story. This smaller producer, which used smaller, old (and picturesque) wooden sheds and barns, also revealed a slightly different methodology. The ducklings (hatched off-site) were allowed free range in grassy outdoor pens before being moved indoors to the manipulated environment. But even that seemed a little friendlier: at this stage the ducklings were still allowed to roam in quite large rooms. Unfortunately, (and important for my own regular, future consumption as it would turn out) this farm was not licensed to export either extra-provincially or internationally. The gavage was similar to the prior operation, but with an important difference: the feed was stopped when the livers were estimated to be at the 400 to 450 gram stage of growth for slaughter, and before any obvious distension had taken place. For regulatory reasons (and much like many of the province’s wonderful cheeses), their product is not available outside of Quebéc, the only Canadian province where it is legal to produce foie gras de canard. The chef with whom I was traveling, Jean-Luc Boulay, who operates a restaurant in Quebéc City called Le Saint’Amour, visited this operation regularly, as much, I came to feel, for his interest in the welfare of the animals as for the quality of the finished (smaller) product that they gave up. He seemed convinced that the smaller livers were superior—less likely to be granular—and that the ducks knew no suffering. Boulay regularly serves several variations—typical might be a homemade terrine with Sauternes jelly and fig pulp (the original, ancient Egyptian gavage was from a diet of figs); squab stuffed with fresh foie gras; or foie gras seared with fleur de sel, its pan deglazed with cranberries and mango chutney. One can also order a foie gras plat combining several of these. Without for a minute wishing to prejudice anyone, having seen these two producers, I wouldn't eat from a foie over half a kilo. And because in a restaurant setting in Western Canada, that’s nigh on impossible to verify, I choose to eat it no more here. But that’s an entirely personal choice, albeit one I regretfully add to a growing list of other much-missed foods, especially that other luxe one, Caspian caviar. In fact, the last foie gras I ate was in Quebéc City, early last summer, from the hand of the master Boulay. It was generous and seared quickly in a hot iron pan, with a top knot of good salt and a fresh, barely warmed compôte of rhubarb that put sweaters on my teeth. Those perfect combinant flavours, plush under their crust and tinctured with the rhubarb, melted away slowly, and then forever.
  16. I would fault the periodical and not the author for this article, which should be marked 'Incomplete' and, as a result, inconclusive. It's a shame that it did not see fit to invest more space, however other MOR food glossies are now only just getting around to sustainabilty and other environmental issues, let alone battery poultry operations and the subject of real or perceived cruelty. First, I think it would have been useful to visit more than one operation and compare them. My experience is that there is considerable variation in husbandry, technology-levels and methodologies between operations. There is also a difference in philosophies. In short, all foie is not created equal. Although much has been made of various gavage procedures, and the potential for pain (cruelty), in my experience there are a number of other potential stress points for the animals. It's been some time since I read the article, but these are the questions that I think need need to be answered in order for the reader to make an objective and informed choice: 1. Are the chicks hatched on site or bought-in, and from where? What species? Are the chicks allowed to roam outdoors or are they shed-raised? 2. What is the diet? 3. How are the birds tricked into false-autumn in order to trigger gavage? Starve, feed, starve, feed method? What is the in-barn lighting and refrigeration cycle. What is the bird:floor space ratio? 4. How are the birds constrained once in the gavage sheds? Metal racks? Are they wet-chilled and air-conditioned during gavage? What are the sanitation proceedures? 5. What is the proceedure for disease control and level of medication such as antibiotics? 6. What is the gavage diet? 7. What is the average weight per harvested lobe? Are the livers permitted to grow outside the ribcage (i.e. more than 500 gram lobes)? (In my experience this is a critical question.) 8. What is the morbidity rate at the chick, pre-gavage and gavage stages? 9. What are the abbatoir proceedures? Are the birds shipped for kill or slaughtered on site? 10. What is the damaged lobe loss ratio? What happens to damaged or bruised lobes or portions/ 11. What is the carcass recovery methodology? Are breasts and legs harvested? Are carcasses recovered? [Edited for spelling (it's not easy being a Virgo)]
  17. There is a Japanese restaurant nearby called Wabi Sabi that cooks a certain sort of freestyle Japanese cusine. But I think the term describes more an aesthetic: a comfort in imperfection; a lack of pretension, even earthiness; and a celebration (quietly) in Nature's processes of birth, growth, death and decay; and also, by extension, the beauty of impermanence. How fitting then in the restaurant business. Jamie PS: Here's a Wabi Sabi site.
  18. That's because the only people who have been able to figure out exactly what is a Canadian are the Canadians, and if they know, they aren't telling. We Americans vacillate between two oversimplifications, both of which conveniently leave out Québec: Canadians are Americans who spell words with too many vowels or vowels in the wrong places, have an unnatural fondness for donuts and end all their sentences with "eh?", or Canadians are weak-kneed peaceniks who want to turn North America into a clone of decadent Europe (I think that's the current line being pushed on Fox News Channel, but I can't swear by this). ← As always, Cheney-like marksmanship, Sandy! Play nice though, we've quietly become your largest supplier of oil, gas, water and movie stars. One recent incident might prove your point: my business partner from Philly was 'shushed' for cheering too loudly at a Canucks game. And no, we weren't playing the Flyers. But to move this response back to a gastronomic theme, he was also derided for leaving a midden of peanut shells under his seat. Needless to say, these were silently cleaned up by my countrymen between periods so that he might begin his mess again, afresh. To really capture the essence of what it is to be a Canadian: Watch the highlights of the Olympic 'skeleton' competiton tonight. Yours in anthropology, Jamie PS: Absolutely. And to extend your thought, the same applies in every human transaction (which I believe is the point of de La Pradelle's little ditty) including the complicity of merchant and shopper. Cheers, J.
  19. I understand the nation's capital is unusually slippery right now. Even tires are spinning.
  20. Hey, this is supposed to be an anthropology book. Not a Peter Mayle book. If humor is the main reason for purchasing an anthropology book, then there must be something wrong with the anthropology. ← I'm not so sure about that, Ptipois. I had a right good giggle after I put The Origin of Species down.
  21. Honestly what concerns me most about reading this book is the foreword written by Jack Katz that says: "This is an important book for all theorists of the self." Honestly, my head almost hit the keyboard as I was struck with a sudden, intense urge to take a long nap. ← Not quite, Karen, although I had a remarkably similar reaction after I woke up the family last night. The quote actually referred to a third-party review of a book that Katz had authored called "How Emotions Work." I posted the review pull-quote intentionally as I thought it reflected on some of our own discussion. It was he though who invented the handy phrase "An Unindictable Fraud". Katz has published such works as "On the Rhetorics and Politics of Ethnographic Methodology" and "Analytic Induction" (International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences); "analytic induction is a research logic used to collect data, develop analysis, and organize the presentation of research findings." Personally, I'd like a combi-analytic induction range so that I can have my cake and eat it too. And now, back to Women's Hockey. Looks like we'll be having turnips, err, Swedes, for lunch.
  22. I couldn't agree more, Karen; even well-reasoned discussion benefits from the leavening of humour, especially when it runs to the "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" school of corny beefs on wry. Perhaps that sandwich of opinion is best taken with a grain of psalt. Hair-splitting, clairvoyance and shopping techniques aside, I was delighted to see such a rigorous debate: informed discussion is really what this place should be about and I applaud fellow members for taking such a keen interest. As Lucy points out, the original book was published in France eleven years ago. It would be interesting to know what The University of Chicago's motivation is in re-publishing it, replete with an American-written foreword. I also wonder what - in some type of loose order - the effect of North American publication will be: 1. Will de La Pradelle's work be sensationalized in English-speaking counties and do for open-air markets what Peter Mayle did for home renovations? 2. Will it be regarded as a series of observations in the style of Lawrence Osborne's The Accidental Connoisseur ? 3. Will it be regarded as a serious endictment of a way of life? 4. Will it be regarded as a serious piece of work (if salted with wry, found humour), where extrapolations take the discussion to other levels of how we choose? 5. Or will it sink like a stone, unread and unloved? As I have tried to suggest here (alas, not always successfully), the beauty of found humour and of our human condition is in the eye of the beholder. And in the case of turnips and boyfriends, as Ptipois amplifies, the eyes have it. Even here, as luck would have it: Nobody plays the Canadian card like the Canadians.
  23. For those of you considering ordering or purchasing a copy of Market Day in Provence, here's a list of section and chapter headings that augment some of the recent reviews quoted upthread: The foreword is by ethnographer Jack Katz of whose "How Emotions Work" it was said: 'Katz argues that it is “possible to study rigorously how people construct their understandings of emotional behavior in natural settings.” The seven chapters in this book combine in a study of anger, laughter, shame, and crying. The result is a social psychology which attends to emotion as an accomplished, expressive, and created aspect of social life. This is an important book for all theorists of the self.' TABLE OF CONTENTS Foreword to the American Edition, by Jack Katz Introduction Part I - The Market Stage Chapter 1 City Tour Chapter 2 Well-Ordered Chaos Part II - An Economy of Enticement Chapter 3 The Art of Taking One’s Time Chapter 4 Familiar Strangers Chapter 5 Delights of Free Trade Part III - Commerce of the Imaginary Chapter 6 “The customer doesn’t go by price here” Chapter 7 “Pumpkins are rounder at the market” Chapter 8 “Let me have some pâté, but your pâté” Chapter 9 “I sell Provence” Chapter 10 Ordinary Authenticity Chapter 11 The Truffle Circle Part IV - Pleasure of the Agora Chapter 12 Equality of Opportunity Chapter 13 All at the Market, All in the Same Boat Chapter 14 In Full View Chapter 15 Generalized Friendship Part V - Identity on Offer Chapter 16 “Do you still make those little caillettes of yours?” Chapter 17 In the Forebears’ Footsteps Conclusion: A Moment of Utopia Notes Index
  24. I understand your point and think it well made. I also look forward to your opinion once you've had the chance to read the book. ← Great suggestion, Jamie. But please have patience. It went out of print 11 years ago in this country. ← Lucy, Here you go. I believe they'll FedEx it for a modest surcharge.
  • Create New...