|Foie gras has so bright and intense taste that its use is banned at
international culinary contests, as well as truffles'. This is because
adding even a small amount of this product to a dish can give the
author an advantage compared to competitors.
Today in France Gascony, Perigor and Alsace specialize in the
production of this delicacy, and there exists a real cult of foie
gras. In an ancient city Sarle in Perigor there is even a square with
a bronze monument to geese who have made this region famous.
By French laws, only a dish containing namely duck or goose liver and
salt, sugar and some spices (most often it is just pepper) has the
right to be called foie gras. There is no such thing as foie gras with
olives, mushrooms, duck or goose meat, and of course not with pork.
An exception is made only for truffles, but, since these mushrooms are
very fragrant, their maximum acceptable content in the product is 3%.
Presence of any other additives means that this is not real foie gras
in front of you, but just a meat paste, perhaps with an addition of
duck or goose liver.
In France the majority of this product is supplied by small duck- and
goose-breeding farms . Duck liver that constitutes 80% of the world
production of foie gras (except France it is also produced in Hungary
and USA) has more subtle aroma and keeps its taste qualities longer.
But goose liver has an intense taste and tender silken consistency.
And it is correspondingly more expensive - by about 30%.
Despite popular beliefs the birds are not tormented in the process of
feeding. Geese and ducks are not hanged in sacks or nets to prevent
movements. First 3-4 months they live free in the grasslands, and only
last two weeks - in pens where they are fed every hour. Artificial
feeding doesn't lead to liver cirrhosis as many think. As it is known,
even in natural conditions migratory water birds build "energy stocks"
before seasonal migrations.
Also, no special conditions are required for their growing: walnuts
and figs that are allegedly fed to ducks and geese together with
classical music are also a legend. Instead of it the birds are given
regular corn, wheat and oats, most often - mixed with goose fat, so
that everything would be better digested. And no protein additives or
Now a little about how, when and with what foie gras is eaten. The
classical way of serving the delicacy is a stew or a cold appetizer.
And at its motherland, in Perigor, one can also try an omelette with
foie gras - the most delicious and probably the most expensive
omelette in the world. There is almost no supply of raw liver to
Russia - this is a perishable product. Though in some stores one can
find frozen liver. But, of course, it doesn't stand any comparison
with the raw one. After defrosting (microwave is not recommended for
this purpose) it is fried on both sides for a few seconds until it
becomes golden. In the process it fries away approximately one third
of weight - it is to be taken into account when comparing the cost of
raw and preserved foie gras.
No side dishes are served with this dish to keep its delicate flavor.
An exception is only made for green lettuce and fried chanterelles. An
ideal addition to foie gras is sweet grapes and sweet sauces - with
baked apples, sautéed figs, caramelized onions or the classical one,
with wild berries. Sliced liver is usually served as an appetizer and
eaten with bread made from coarse flour. As for wines that fit this
delicacy, the best choice is Sautern, sweet white wine made out of
grapes that are slightly touched with frost. Also, any half sweet
white wines, French or German, or brut Champagne will fit.
And to comfort the foie gras lovers who count calories we can say
that, like, for example, olive oil, it doesn't make you fat. Research
results have shown that these products contain healthy monounsaturated
fats that lower blood cholesterol.
Foie gras entier (whole foie gras) - the most expensive of all kinds
of foie gras. Each jar must contain at least one of two parts of
natural liver, and most often - the whole liver.
Foie gras - big pieces of liver pressed together - (it is often said
on the label - avec morceaux - with pieces).
Bloc de foie gras - something like a liver paste, which looks
practically uniform when cut. Contains 98% foie gras.
Foie gras cru - raw liver intended for frying. It is practically not
exported at all.
Foie gras mi-cuit (half baked foie gras) - whole liver which is
covered with boiling bird fat straight in cans. It only manages to
"set" a little, and the can is sealed as soon as the fat cools down.
This precious product keeps no longer than a few weeks, and there is
also almost no export of it.
Foie gras cuit (baked foie gras) - liver that is marinated in a
mixture of salt and spices, heated on a water bath until 110-120
degrees Centigrade and packed in glass or metal jars, also with a
small amount of hot fat. Such preserves are kept cold. They have quite
long term of storage; besides, baked foie gras, like good wine,
becomes only better with time.
BY THE WAY
Ideal weight of a goose liver is 650-900 g, duck liver - 400-600 g.
Fresh foie gras should be beige or grayish rose color; there is no use
in buying bright yellow product. Fresh liver should be cooked during
the day of purchase or the next day. Half baked foie gras is ready for
use and can be stored for no longer than 3-4 weeks, but if it is sold
vacuum-packed, it can be kept in a refrigerator for 2 months.
Pasteurized foie gras can be kept in a refrigerator for up to 6
The words "100% foie gras" on the label mean the liver of a whole
goose or duck, "75% de foie gras" - goose or duck liver parfait, and
"50% de foie gras" points that what is in front of you is goose or
duck liver pate, mousse or galantine.
Sales price of whole goose foie gras at a farm in Perigor starts from
13 Euro for 100 g, "block" - from 10. Duck liver is cheaper by one
third. And how much more expensive the liver has become on its way
from France - this you can find out in the nearest supermarket.
The unique status of foie gras can be confirmed by the fact that foie
gras is mentioned in the list of foods that the members of the first
expedition to Everest were taking with them, together with rice,
millet and two dozens bottles of Monteblau Champagne of 1915.