If you haven't heard the howls of protest from foie gras fiends, here's the upshot: Eight years ago, a state senate bill gave farmers until July 1 of this year to find a more humane method than gavage, the French term for the fource-feeding technique used to enlarge a goose's or duck's liver in order to make foie gras. They failed to do so, and it's now illegal to produce or sell foie gras here, making California the only state with such a ban. Family-owned Sonoma Foie Gras is rumored to be moving its 26-year-old operation to Nevada, where everything is legal.
However, there's a loophole: Generously, the ban does not prohibit giving away foie gras.
"It'll be like speakeasies," says Roland Passot, chef-owner of La Folie. "Customers will say, 'Hey, we want that special dinner.'" Wink, wink. Anticipate really expensive toast points with a side of free foie. Threatened with a $1,000 fine, though, chefs will keep it on the down-low.
Hope for a reversal comes by way of Chicago. A 2006 ban was overturned after less than two years when chefs failed to be cited for giving away "free" foie gras. Meanwhile, some are turning to other options, such as monkfish liver, known as the foie gras of the sea—though partakers might be confronted with more protesters. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch rates monkfish as a fish to avoid.
For now, you might have to stoop to chicken liver mousse. Hey, don't shoot the messenger.