What One Writer Found at a Foie Gras Farm

Foie gras is among the most discussed and debated of food topics, and D’Artagnan has been at the center of that conversation for decades. That’s because Ariane Daguin founded the company in 1985 to market the first foie gras produced in the United States. She is one of the foremost experts and most visible proponents of foie gras in the country. So when writer Laura Ratliff wanted to see foie gras production up close, she took a trip to Gascony, France, with Ariane to experience a foie gras farm and hand-feed the ducks herself. Read on to see what happened.

The meat-loving writer’s journey to Gascony – the motherland of foie gras, and Ariane’s birthplace – gave her a unique opportunity to see foie gras in its natural habitat. Together they visited a foie gras farm, shopped at a foie gras market, and butchered down a whole duck to make terrine of foie gras. Laura saw ducks waddling freely, and being gently fed by gavage for a few seconds. She fed them herself, under the guidance of the farmer, and saw how quickly it is done, and how unperturbed the ducks were.

The gavage is gently removed, and the duck waddles back to its team, wings flapping. No one looks disturbed or tortured. And I, perhaps remarkably, feel at peace with my decision to continue spreading foie gras onto a warm baguette or cutting into a lobe, lightly seared and served with a cherry compote and a nip of Sauternes.

Read her article I Force-Fed a Duck, and I Liked It at Tasting Table.

You don’t have to go to France to get foie gras. Shop for foie gras in all its forms – raw, whole or sliced, cooked, as a terrine or mousse, at dartagnan.com.

Andre Daguin Foie Gras Farm France Tasting Table
Ariane’s father, Chef Andre Daguin, at the duck farm, posted on Instagram by Laura Ratliff.

What is Foie Gras?

Made famous in France, foie gras is a traditional food known to mankind since Ancient Egypt, where people discovered enlarged fatty livers in the ducks and geese they hunted. Those prized livers were the result of the birds’ own natural gorging before long migratory flights, with the fat serving as a caloric gas tank. As waterfowl were domesticated, the Egyptians found ways to hand feed the birds and recreate the effect of a fattened liver. Thousands of years later, the tradition continues with chefs around the world finding creative ways to cook foie gras.

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Whole foie gras lobes just extracted from ducks on Ariane’s farm tour.

For those looking to learn more about foie gras, we recommend reading this post about the foie gras myths at First We Feast. For the truly studious, Mark Caro wrote a whole book focusing on Chicago and the foie gras ban there called The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World’s Fiercest Food Fight.

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Ducks at the foie gras farm.

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