Foie-Mageddon: California in One Last Foie Gras Binge Before Statewide Ban
With a deadline of July 1 looming prices have doubled, restaurant menus are replete with every possible version of the dish, and gastronomes are engaging in one last cholesterol-inducing binge.
California’s decision to ban foie gras, which is made from the liver of a specially fattened duck or goose, was taken in 2004 and signed into law by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but an eight-year period of grace was allowed.
Since then a debate has raged between gourmands and some chefs on one side, with animal welfare activists on the other. There have been protests, warnings of future black market bootlegging, and even death threats against non-compliant chefs.
One such chef, Chris Cosentino, has reportedly received death threats. In response he accused animal rights activists of having an “agenda for a vegan country.”
With three weeks left to what has been dubbed “foie-mageddon” eateries are churning out dishes and customers are snapping them up.
At Melisse in Santa Monica, which has two Michelin stars, chef Josiah Citrin is offering a $185 (£120) “Foie for All” five-course tasting menu including truffled foie gras agnolotti, dover sole with poached foie gras, and foie gras with pudding. Around 30 per cent of customers are ordering the foie gras.
“It is definitely one of the most popular things we serve here,” according to the chef. “The great thing about America is we have freedom of choice. I’m personally sad because foie gras is a foundation of haute gastronomy.”
Protesters who picketed the restaurant last month disagreed. Madeline Bernstein, president of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: “People are allowed to eat food, not allowed to torture it first.”