Foie gras sounds French because the meat is most commonly served there. Foie gras is not a commonly known meal or food in the United States, and for a variety of reasons, is also banned in some places.
What is foie gras? Foie gras is the liver of a force fed duck or goose. The animal’s liver becomes unnaturally large – often several times larger than normal. The result is a unique delicacy.
Foie gras can be described as tasting like meat flavored butter, in a natural way. Foie gras has a very unique flavor that comes from an overstuffed liver.
What does foie gras taste like, and where does the flavor come from?
While a meat flavored butter is a fairly accurate way of describin the taste of foie gras, it also tastes a bit like liver since the meat is in fact a duck or goose liver.
Foie gras can taste a bit different depending on which bird it came from. Goose has a milder flavor with a more butter like taste. Duck has been known to have a more gamey flavor, which means it tastes more earthy, like the plants and ground produce the duck itself ate.
The phrase “Umami” is certainly brought up with foie gras. Umami is the idea of a fifth taste that adds on to salty, sweet, bitter, and sour – it’s considered savory. The concept is vague, but you’ll certainly notice a great balance of flavors that are hard to explain in your mouth. Umami is a balance between flavors without going too hard in one direction.
What is the texture of foie gras?
When prepared well, foie gras is best known for it’s texture. We described earlier that foie gras tastes like meat flavored butter because the actual texture is soft like butter while producing a meaty flavor. This is quite the opposite of a much leaner meat, which can be tougher and chewy.
Foie gras achieves this effect by being very high in fat content. At 50 to 65 percent fat, foie gras is twice as fatty and rich as typical goose or duck liver. The fat droplets are also very tiny and not chunky, given foie gras a super smooth mouth feel when eaten.
The result is a very easy to cut and chew liver pate.
What does foie gras look like?
Foie gras has an unusual appearance compared to other meats, in part because as described above, the fat content is a lot higher.
The prepared meat can take on the appearance of a block of button, and is often tan or yellow.
Foie gras is either shaped as the original liver itself, or formed into a pate. The pate can have a slightly different content as chefs often include other elements like truffles to change the texture and add some different flavors.
What does foie gras smell like?
Here’s where foie gras takes another unusual turn besides it’s rich buttery taste and the method used to fatten geese.
Foie gras is said to smell a bit like wet dog. Others say it smells like a barnyard, in a positive way. The good news for foie gras eaterns: foie gras does not taste like wet dog.
Are there health benefits for foie gras?
We suggested earlier that foie gras has double the fat of a typical liver. There is some good news here: While foie gras is very fatty, it’s not the bad kind of fat. Foie gras contains unsaturated, natural fats.
While fat is generally not good for you, this contrasts greatly with the saturated fats and processed fats you can find in some foods. The types of fats found in good foie gras can actually help lower your cholesterol.
We also have to note that while foie gras has good fat, an excessive amount of foie gras is not good for your diet in general – but that can be said for many foods, including chocolate.
Of course, there is a completely different reason to limit your foie gras consumption: price.
Is foie gras expensive?
Consider this: foie gras tastes very good to most, is considered a delicacy, and it uses a somewhat controversial process to make to the point that it’s banned in some places. In addition, foie gras is usually prepared by skilled chefs.
Foie gras is not cheap. Except to pay $40 to $80 per pound, which depending on the current price, is 10 times higher than some kinds of beef. So, people don’t tend to eat much foie gras, regardless of health benefits or downsides, because eating it regularly would be very expensive.
Where can I find foie gras?
Foie gras is also not all that easy to find. Your best bet is a local butcher shop, a French or otherwise European restaurant, or ordering it online.
The answer might be a bit different in Europe, where foie gras is more commonly found in grocery stores. One might be able to find foie gras at a gourmet retailer in the United States. Higher end grocery stores may or may not carry the meat due to issues they have with how the birds are fed.
Why is foie gras controversial?
From the perspective of animal rights activists, the process of producing foie gras is cruel to animals. Ducks and geese are forcible fed more than they would normally eat to make their livers fatty.
In some extreme cases, a farmer will have to shove a tube down a duck’s throat in order to get it to eat more.
Activists consider this method cruel because it produces a diseased liver. They also object to the painful method by which some animals are fed – with a forced tube down the throat.
Other farms are more ethical and don’t use metal tubes to feed ducks. One reporter who investigated ducks at a more considerate foie gras farm noticed that the ducks were not kept in cages and were instead gathered by their feeders. They generally seemed happy in their eyes.
Foie gras offers a very unique, soft, and buttery texture for a meat. The taste effectively feels to the tongue like a butter flavored naturally with meat, which isn’t something we can say about a lot of foods.
Consider researching the foie gras process before purchasing it at places besides restaurants to see how the ducks are treated if you are concerned about ethics.