foie gras

foie gras (fwä grä) [key] [Fr., = fat liver], livers of artificially fattened geese. Ducks and chickens are also sometimes used in the making of foie gras. The birds, kept in close coops to prevent exercise, are systematically fed to the limit of their capacity. Under this treatment the livers are brought to weigh 2 or 3 lb (1.0–1.5 kg) or more. Foie gras was prized by epicures in Egypt, Greece, and Rome, but the fattening of geese for their livers became a lost art during the Middle Ages except in Strasbourg. The industry was revived in the 18th cent. following the creation of pâté de foie gras by Jean Joseph Close (or Clause), a chef brought to Alsace by a French governor of the province. The pâté is made by cooking fresh livers, reducing them to a paste delicately seasoned with wine and aromatics and combining it with truffles and finely chopped veal. The making of foie gras has become a famous industry of Strasbourg and of Toulouse, France. The product is exported to all parts of the world in several forms—the esteemed pâté; foie gras au naturel, the plain cooked livers; a sausage; and a purée.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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