Any food connoisseurs will confirm that foie gras is perhaps one of the most eclectic and sought after delicacies in the gourmet world.
Foie gras, literally meaning fattened liver, is either the liver of duck or goose that has undergone a specific diet to reach the desirable conclusion.
A lot of controversy has erupted around the creation of Foie Gras as the process involves force feeding the ducks and geese to achieve the desired result. The end result is a liver that weighs close to 300 grams whereas a normal unfattened liver weighs approximately 50 grams.
The process of force feeding is called Gavage and dates back far into ancient times, carvings have been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs showing ducks and geese being force fed. There are also accounts of great Roman banquets were enlarged livers were served as a rare delicacy. The process is complicated and labor intensive even the smallest of variables can affect the quality of the foie gras.
Many people consider the goose variety to have a finer texture and to generally be more flavorful, this does also make it the more expensive of the two. Foie Gras is banned in the UK and is mainly associated with certain regions of France, especially Gascony. In fact, French law states that foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France.
True to the heritage, foie gras does play an important role in traditional French cuisine where it is considered to be one of the most luxurious delicacies. Its flavor is said to be somewhere between rich, buttery and delicate, quite unlike an unaltered liver. Many chefs have included it in gourmet recipes for both hot and cold cuisine.
Many high end restaurants will serve foie gras as an appetizer between 40 and 70 grams. It is sliced with a thin toothless knife and eaten with French bread. By tradition a good champagne is the usual companion for foie gras though many deem sweet dry wines as being just as good if not better to enhance the flavor. Due to its exclusivity, foie gras is eaten on special occasions such as Christmas and New Years Eve.
The creation of foie gras is a complicated progress that varies according to the chef. The exact recipes are closely guarded secrets and there is a wide variety of flavors and tastes. Any good gourmet store will have a selection of different foie gras brands, however which is the finest depends on the preference of individual buyers. Gourmets usually prefer their foie gras with a touch of Armagnac and others with Cognac.