On the Best Foie Gras

Photo by acme 

“We grade all foie gras in three groups,” said M. Barbuer. “Extra are the best one. They go into whole blocks of foie gras naturel, the finest, most expensive variety. People in your country always confuse it with Pâté de Foie Gras and Crème de Foie Gras, for which we sometimes use the second best quality, called sur-choix. There is also a third best quality, choix, but we don’t bother much with that.” He let his hand flop down. “The best goose livers are not big; one pound and a half is the ideal weight. Ours are yellow, not white, like the ones that were imported before the war from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Rumania. Our peasants feed their geese with yellow maize, which accounts for the color. Personally I like the yellow ones better. Their aroma is finer, and you know why?” M. Barbier fondly graded two extra specimens and produced another set of fingerprints. “Because out peasants in the Dordogne, Landes, the Basses-Pyrénées, and the Haute-Savoie may have six or ten or twenty geese, butnever more than thirty. No mass production, mon cher monsieur. Mass production is the ruin of the grande cuisine.

From Black Truffles in Blue Trout and Black Truffles, by Joseph Wechsberg. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1985.

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