Foie Gras, which literally means fat liver in French, is a specialty of the south-western as well as the Alsace region of France. It is obtained by force feeding ducks or geese so that their liver enlarges. Supposedly this is
without health consequences for the animal, although some people consider it a cruel practice.
A Food for Celebrations
Foie gras is considered a delicacy and eaten throughout France on special occasions. Buying it for the first time can be a bit intimidating, as it is sold in a variety of ways. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
It can be fresh, partly cooked and pasteurized (mi-cuit), or canned(after it has been cooked and sterilized.) Outside of France you may have a hard time finding it fresh, and it is easiest to find it in cans or glass
Fresh liver lasts for only one week in the refrigerator.
A partly cooked product can last for up to six months in the refrigerator and is actually considered to be better after it has aged some.
You can keep a canned liver product for several years in a cool, dark pantry.
Canned or jarred products can either be an entire piece of liver, or what is known as a bloc. In a bloc the liver has been mixed with water and seasonings to produce a homogenous paté. You can also find a bloc that has entire pieces of liver mixed into it (bloc de foie gras avec morceaux).
Sometimes a product will be sold in brandy (eau-de-vie or Armagnac) or it might be fabricated with truffles.
Goose liver is usually slightly pink and duck liver more brown. Goose liver products are often considered the best, but duck liver is excellent and somewhat less expensive. A product should be judged not on it's color but on the smoothness of its consistency.
It is best appreciated as a canape on a small square of lightly toasted white bread. It is often served at cocktail hour with Champagne. Or it can be featured as a first
course to an elegant meal, perhaps accompanied by a Sauternes wine.
While it has few of the nutritional benefits of regular liver and a hefty packet of calories (about 130 calories for a 1 ounce serving), a small amount will do no harm and you will be enjoying one of France's gastronomical greats.