By: Robert Buxbaum

In Defense of Foie Gras

“Foie Gras Event Is Killed by Protests”

is the headline that caught my attention in the NY Times on Tuesday, August 24, 1999. Michael Ginor, whose Hudson Valley Foie Gras is prized by starred chefs across the country was due to promote his new book,Foie Gras . . . A Passion at a panel discussion and tasting of foie gras scheduled for September at the Smithsonian Institute. Proceeds from ticket sales would have benefited the Smithsonian. Apparently the “tenor” of the messages from self-styled animals rights activists caused the Smithsonian to cancel the event out of concern for the health and safety of the audience rather than the supposed inhumane treatment of the birds.

Mr. Ginor, whose operation produces duck foie gras, presents the process of force feeding as neither painful nor distressing to the ducks. As proof, he adds that “when a person comes to feed them, they come to the feeders.” These birds don’t like people and usually avoid humans, or worse yet, act aggressively toward them. In his excellent article on Foie Gras from duck and goose in Southwest France, in the Fall 1998 issue of the Art of Eating Edward Behr, concurs, noting that the birds grow accustomed to the feeder during the fattening and neither shy away much nor resist. The feeding tube stays in the bird’s neck for about ten seconds. (Mr. Ginor says it’s one and one half seconds.) Ducks naturally swallow grit and stones. The esophagus of a duck is lined with fibrous protein cells that resemble bristles and does not bear comparison to that of a human. The activists’ attempts at anthropomorphism are understandable when the intent is propaganda, not enlightenment. In Behr’s words, “a stressed or hurt bird won’t eat and digest well or produce a foie gras.” Behr’s article also cites a section of the forthcoming Foie Gras . . . A Passion as source for some interesting history about the production of foie gras.

The triumph of ignorance, and censorship by intimidation are offensive. When I received an e-mail from a representative of John Wiley & Sons, asking if I might be interested in reviewing Ginor’s new book on this site, I was most receptive.

About the Book

Foie Gras…A Passion

by Michael A. Ginor
with Mitchell A. Davis
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
(ISBN: 0-471-29659-7, 352 pages, $49.95 cloth)

As delectable as foie gras itself–a complete look at the savory secrets of this ancient and classic delicacy, from legend to table.

Over the last few years, foie gras has become, as Ruth Reichl has written in The New York Times, “the dish that no restaurant can do without…the ultimate guilty pleasure.”

Now foie gras producer and connoisseur Michael Ginor has created the most complete reference and recipe book available on the subject. It brings together comprehensive coverage of foie gras history, production, and cooking techniques with mouthwatering recipes of 75 chefs from around the world, including Daniel Boulud (Daniel and Cafe Boulud, New York), Jacques Pepin (French Culinary Institute, New York), Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago), and Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Yountville, CA). Beautifully produced and filled with stunning photographs, Foie Grass is sumptuous reading for the epicure in everyone.

Foie Gras…A Passion is available wherever books are sold, online or off, or directly from John Wiley and Sons, Inc. at 1-800-225-5945 or visit the Wiley website at

An introduction

I found the book fascinating for it’s a historical account of both Fois Gras and haute cuisine, which subjects I had heretofore rather incorrectly thought synonymous. Until recently, the term “foie gras” may not be a familiar one to most people, not even to many lovers of fine cuisine. A popular delicacy elsewhere since the time of the pharaohs, goose liver (and more recently, duck liver) has only recently begun to make inroads here in the United States. One of the people responsible for this progress is foie gras connoisseur Michael Ginor, who has now put his passion for the food into words, in a book aptly entitled Foie Gras…A Passion (John Wiley & Sons).

This book gives a comprehensive overview of this unusual foodstuff, from its ancient origins to its increasingly prominent place in modern cuisine. In addition to the history lesson, Ginor also provides practical techniques for choosing and preparing foie gras, even including useful advice from sommelier Kevin Zraly on pairing wine with foie gras. The second half of Foie Gras, is devoted to an incredible selection of foie gras-inspired dishes, created by some of the world’s most renowned chefs. This selection gives ample proof of the worldwide appeal and adaptability of foie gras, whether your dish of choice is traditional French fare, southwestern barbecue, or even Japanese sushi.

Recommended links:

Foie gras, a southwestern tradition.I also recommend the link on that page to Letter from Ariege Jan. 2000: “The Psychology of Foie Gras”

Georges Bruck Strasbourg

Edouard Artzner?Strasbourg

Sonoma Foie Gras Sonoma, California

Grimaud Farms Stockton, California

Hudson Valley Foie Gras Ferndale, New York