Foie Gras Fans Defy California Ban
California has banned the French delicacy foie gras in the State restaurants and most of the chefs, including the celebrities, have risen up in arms against this decision. While the federal authorities may be sticking to their decision for now, it seems the foie gras fans are not going to take this lying down. Antoine Price was the first to defy the ban with his foie gras party at Cafe Mimosa.
The Foie Gras Party
It goes without saying that foie gras was the centre of attraction at Price's party. The meal came at a price of $150 per individual, including wine costs but that was not its highlight. The highlight was that the banned dish was the centerpiece among the six dinner dishes. So much so that foie gras was also served as a dessert, wrapped in cotton candy. As if that was not a clear indication of Price's intentions, he even titled the menu "Foie You!" Apparently Price was not at all worried about what the government would say to this party. When asked about the potential response from the authorities, Price said, "They can lock me up if they want. I don't mind." In Price's case, he has French-born, so his proximity to foie gras is quite understandable as this dish is a staple in France even today and French people eat it without the remorse associated with American or British diners. The guests, however, were a little discreet while accepting the invitation. However, there is no dearth of supporters of foie gras. David Henninger, another one from San Clemente, insists, "There will always be foie gras to find. It's just going to be like Prohibition or anything else. Anything you make unavailable, people want more. The last place they tried to do it, in Chicago, the rule got overturned in six months."
The Foie Gras Story
This gives rise to the eternal debate about foie gras that whether it really is unethical to eat it? Well, if you take a look at the way foie gras originates, you would not want another bite of it, but then, the Californian chefs defying the ban clearly do not think so. But there are agencies and individuals, who think otherwise. Earlier this year, PETA wrote a strong letter to the CEO of the body that grants Michelin stars to restaurants worldwide. In the letter, PETA urged the CEO to stop awarding stars to those establishments, which serve foie gras on their menu. While nothing has come forward from Michelin in response to the letter, it has, nevertheless, brought back attention to the cruelty meted out to the ducks and geese in the name of cultivating foie gras.
The lovers of foie gras ban justify their stand by saying that the geese are naturally prone to increasing the size of their live up to 10 times before they take their migratory flight. However, there are contradictions here. Bryan Pease, co-founder and board chairman of the San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League said that forcing the geese to increase the size of their liver by 10 times, through force-feeding, is nothing short of inhumanity. Charlotte Cressey, an advocate for animal rights, pitches in with, "It's completely different having a metal pipe forced down your throat a couple of times a day ... than choosing to fatten up for wintertime and making that choice yourself." In Cressey's opinion, "There is no such thing as humane meat. However, foie is one of the most cruel, egregious, torturous and unnecessary forms of violence inflicted on animals."
The story is same everywhere in Californian restaurant-scape. Restaurateurs are serving foie gras on their menu and by the looks of it, they will continue to do so despite the ban. One such restaurant is Melisse. This two Michelin-star restaurant in Santa Monica, which has been serving foie gras on its menu since January, believes that people are hopeful that the ban will be reversed. The spokeswoman for the restaurant said, "The foie festivities have been keeping us very busy.. The ban has definitely increased the interest in foie gras,I even heard one guest comment that they would not have ordered the foie menu if it wasn't for the ban." The restaurant is serving dishes like Foie Gras Royale with Blackberry Gelee, Foie Gras and Dover Sole, as well as Foie Gras ice cream to its guests. However, that is not all since celebrities chefs, such as Thomas Keller, are behind efforts to persuade lawmakers to take back the ban. At the same time, there are forces, which won't allow that to happen. Farm Animal Protection of the Humane Society of the United State is one such agency. Its Vice President Paul Shapiro says, "Seven and half years is a long time to allow a search for alternatives to the abusive force-feeding ducks for Foie Gras. It's about time this basic anti-cruelty law take effect."
The most prominent form of defiance against the California Foie Gras ban would be the lawsuit filed by a Canadian exporter in a Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking invalidation of the new legislation. The exporter, along with a Californian restaurateur and a Foie Gras producer of New York, filed this lawsuit earlier this week. The lawsuit says that the Californian ban is vague and it is in violation of the commerce clause of the US Constitution. In the 19-page complaint, the complainants say, "The Bird Feeding Law does not provide any intelligible measure - such as weight, volume or calorific value - by which those involved in the feeding of ducks ... may determine at what point a duck has been fed 'more food' than the statute allows such their duck products may continue to be sold in California."
The federal government is yet to reply to any of these acts of defiance, either in the court or otherwise. The stalemate seems set to continue for some time at least. In this battle of ideals, which side are you on? Do you want the ban to continue or not? Write in with your comments.