21 December 2015

Foie gras for Christmas

Here's one way you can buy foie gras — the liver of a fattened duck — for the holidays in France: en bocal. The foie gras is sold in a vacuum-sealed jar that you need to keep in the refrigerator, even before you open it. The use-by date says the unopened jar is good until October 2017, but warns that you must consume the foie gras rapidly once you break the seal. It's perishable.

This foie gras is the whole liver (foie gras entier) of a duck raised and fattened in the Gers (pronounce the S) department in southwestern France, on the southern edge of the old province of Gascony (Gascogne). It will serve eight to ten people and it cost the equivalent of about $15 U.S. at the supermarket. The French eat more foie gras than any other people. It's good served cold, spread on slices of toasted pain de campagne with a garnish of fig preserves, for example, and a vin blanc moelleux or liquoreux like a Sauternes, Monbazillac, or Vouvray. In other words, a fine white "dessert" wine.

The capital of the Gers department in France is the town called Condom. It's a funny bilingual joke to note that the ingredients in the jarred foie gras are the liver of a Gers duck, salt, spice, and a preservative (nitrite de sodium, en l'occurence). Ha ha. I won't explain...

Seriously, foie gras de canard is really delicious. It's a seasonal treat for us. I really don't think that the fattened ducks whose livers go into the jars are necessarily treated any worse than other animals that are raised for human consumption — turkeys, chickens, pigs, cows and steers, fish, oysters, snails...

By the way, today is Walt's birthday. We won't be having foie gras but birthday steak au poivre, our annual tradition.


  1. Which one makes the better foie gras though, duck or goose?
    Enjoy the steak.

  2. Good question. I wish I knew the answer.

  3. Happy Birthday to Walt! I love fois gras (Liba Maj) from living in Budapest. Delicious.

  4. I think I've only had fois gras from a goose. I like the looks of this product from Gers.

  5. E., didn't you have foie gras as your first course at L'Européen restaurant across from the Gare de Lyon last August? If I'm not mistaken, that was duck foie gras.

  6. Yes, I did have foie gras at L'Européen, Ken (you have a good memory). It was excellent and obviously I can't tell goose liver apart from duck liver.

  7. I'm not sure I've ever even eaten foie gras d'oie. I think I've only ever had foie gras de canard (except maybe in some restaurant at some time, but I don't remember). It's not something I eat often.


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