There are only two delicacies in the world that are considered "kings"
|There are only two delicacies in the world that are considered "kings
of the kitchen". The first delicacy was invented by Russians - it is
black caviar. Its history goes back to ancient times. It is known that
even in XI century Kiev grand princes supplied it to monks of Athon
monasteries. The second delicacy is much younger. It is just a little
older than two hundred years. This is the famous pate de foie gras -
goose liver pate.
HOW DID IT BEGIN?
The history of birth of this miracle dish is precisely documented, we
have even the memories of a participant of the first eating of this
top of French cuisine. So, everything happened in 1778 in Alsace.
Marquis de Contad - a French marshal and the ruler of Strasbourg -
told his cook Jean Pierre Clause the famous phrase: "Today I wish to
treat my guests to a real French cuisine." The cook thought for a
while, and a new dish - foie gras - was born. A participant of that
memorable dinner Briyar-Savarin, a great expert in gastronomic
business of that time, left the following memoir: "When the dish was
carried into the hall, all conversations stopped at once and the faces
of all who were present expressed lust, ecstasy and joy." Immediately
after this historical meal the marshal ordered the cook to prepare
another portion of his invention, which was then sent to Paris to the
king Louis XVI. The court has instantly appreciated the exquisiteness
of the new dish. Foie gras had very quickly conquered the hearts of
all Frenchmen. Since then goose liver pate is the dish number one of
French national cuisine.
The first recipe of the pate included the liver of several geese
seasoned with goose fat and spices.
The classical version of foie gras has appeared a little later.
Nicolas Fransouis Douan - chief cook of the parliament of Bordeaux -
added black truffle from Perigor to the Strasbourg pate. This is how
"Strasbourg goose liver pate in Perigor truffles" has appeared.
THE KING OF CHRISTMAS TABLE
Every self-respecting French restaurant making a claim for "stardom"
must have at least one recipe of foie gras in its menu. Cooks'
fantasies can be most sophisticated: foie gras in a cognac sauce, foie
gras with kiwi and grapes, foie gras with curry and cinnamon, even
with oranges and pineapples. Restaurants offer these dishes all year
long, but for most Frenchmen it is a treat for the Christmas table,
similar to turkey for British and Americans.
The classical recipe of foie gras is simple enough. Take eight hundred
grams liver of one goose, add fifteen grams of spices, salt and
pepper, pour a glass of cognac over it and leave on ice overnight. In
the morning add two minced truffles and a glass of Madera and mush all
that for about an hour until it becomes a smooth paste.
After that, the product is placed on a water bath into a preheated
oven and stewed for about an hour. When it is taken out of the oven,
pour goose fat over it.
It is served chilled and cut in fifty grams servings.
SUFFERING OF GEESE
The inventor of foie gras used the liver of several geese to cook his
pate, but since the beginning of XIX century in Strasbourg - and later
in the whole France - it became common to use the liver of one goose
for one portion of pate. But a normal goose, even with all its love to
its owners, can't provide enough liver for a portion of almost a
kilogram, because the weight of its liver is no more than a hundred
grams. But Alsace goose breeders have invented quite a barbarian way
of growing the geese to provide liver for the famous pate. Paws of the
poor birds were nailed to boards, so that the movements wouldn't
interfere with feeding. Their eyes were pricked out so that the view
of the outer world wouldn't distract them from the main purpose -
gaining weight. The poor geese were forcedly stuffed with nuts, at the
same time the consumption of water was severely constrained. With such
measures it was achieved that the liver of such geese reached in
weight as much as twelve hundred grams.
This barbarity made shiver even the famous French gourmet of the
middle of XIX century, count de Courchamp, a member of Chamber of
Peers of France. He has submitted a petition from the name of
Strasbourg geese to the Chamber of Peers.
Modern French geese are not subjected to such tortures as their
ancestors in the XIX century. But they are still forcedly fed and
contained in special pens, which severely constrain the birds'
movements. The feeding of the goose is a torture. A funnel is inserted
into the throat of the poor bird and wheat is dropped through it. The
neck of the goose is massaged so that the food could reach the goiter
and the bird wouldn't vomit away the excess of food. The bird that is
fed this way is given very few water. Though the liver of modern geese
can't compare with the liver of XIX century geese, it reaches 750-850
grams. At the same time it is so rich in fat that one can suspect it
is a liver with cirrhosis. French veterinarians though claim that this
liver doesn't have cirrhosis and therefore is absolutely safe for
human consumption. However, the French prefer not to buy slaughtered
geese that were grown for foie gras. And even more, the famous geese
for Saint Martin's Day spend most of their life grazing in the wild -
this gives their meat unique taste and tenderness.
FOIE GRAS AND EUROPEAN UNION
Defense of animal rights is not only the privilege of aristocratic
gourmets of XIX century. European Union got concerned with the rights
of the poor geese bred for foie gras. First, French farmers are
strongly recommended to stop forcible feeding of birds. Second, they
will have to give more water to the birds. This recommendations of the
EU actually question the very existence of the industry of growing
birds for the main French restaurant delicacy. The liver of geese
supplied by French farmers will not comply with restaurant standards
if the geese are fed by EU techniques. As a result a lot of such farms
- and they are mostly small suburb family farms - will go bankrupt.
About fifteen thousand people in France can lose their stable incomes.
The EU decision has however caused a genuine happiness over the ocean,
namely in Quebec. French Canadians - inhabitants of this province -
have been breeding geese for foie gras for a long time. Perhaps soon
they will become the only suppliers of goose liver for their