An ode to duckfat

A few weeks ago, Matt and I took advantage of a gift certificate to Cafe Flora, a well-regarded vegetarian restaurant just down the street from our new place. The menu looked almost promising, but as I broke down each potential option to figure out what it might taste like, I kept thinking things like, “that would be good, if only it had some lamb in it,” or, “yum, except risotto without chicken stock? I’m not sure that’s going to be particularly tasty.” Which, yes, I realize defeats the purpose of eating in a vegetarian restaurant, but remember, we were eating there because it was free, not because a meatless dinner sounded appealing. (And to follow up, indeed, the risotto would have been much improved with the inclusion of chicken stock. Flavor is a fine, fine thing)

One of the items in our appetizer plate was a vegetarian pate, which, while tasty on certain levels, lacked the unctuousness and depth of real pate, and just left me sort of pining for a bit of good old duck liver fat. A yearning I could potentially find myself nursing for the rest of my natural life if certain people have their way. It’s not bad enough that California is due to outlaw foie gras production in six years, but Whole Foods is now trying to do in the foie producers even quicker by strong arming their duck supplier Grimaud Farms, also Sonoma Foie Gras’ processor, if they want to continue doing business with the grocery store.

That is so not playing fair. First of all, it’s completely disingenuous to make such a fuss about force feeding ducks as being cruel when the average American eats a chicken that’s spent it’s life with it’s beak ripped off, in a cage it can’t move around in, getting pumped with antibiotics because it’s upstairs neighbor has no choice but to poop on it day in, day out. Compared to the chickens in this country, future plates of foie gras live lives of luxury.

Second of all, if people don’t want to eat foie gras, fine. Don’t. But don’t tell me I can’t eat it either. I don’t tell you you can’t eat e. coli strewn ConAgra produced beef in your Big Mac, and again, it just as cruelly produced, and at least as unhealthy, without being nearly as tasty.

To quote Thomas Keller, a national culinary treasure:

“I hope I’m retired by 2012…If force-feeding a duck is cruel, then packing chickens in a cage is cruel, and then the veal and the beef. We are all going to be vegetarians soon if they have their way. We should probably start converting now.”

Never thought I would say this, but Whole Foods has officially lost this customer.