Young and Hungry

Anthony Bourdain on Foie Gras


Anthony Bourdain has been a staunch defender of foie gras ever since Chicago banned the fatty liver (and then rescinded the ban on the fatty liver). In the past, Bourdain has focused on shooting down the ethical/humane arguments promoted by animal activists. Or arguing for an eater's right to choose.

On Friday night at the Warner Theatre, however, Bourdain offered a new wrinkle on his defense — or at least new to me.

"I think that it's an artificial issue," he told the crowd. "I think that PETA...has chosen an easy target. It's a luxury item that most people haven't had. It's expensive. It's suspiciously French. It's hard to pronounce. It just sounds bad, you know? You're feeding a poor goose or duck more than it would ordinarily eat. It looks bad. They did those grainy films... It's not like that. That's not the way foie gras that he buys [Eric Ripert] or I ever bought or any responsible chef at any quality restaurant would buy: a distressed, unhappy animal is bad food...inarguably that kind of suffering and stress leads directly to the quality of food that we don't want."

"Also, every duck for foie gras that I know at Hudson Valley, for instance — and I've been there, I've walked freely everywhere, all around. When the ducks come at you when a human enters the barn, if all the ducks in the place move towards you, that is an indication that their experience with humans, it's not awful."

"I just want to say that every factory farm chicken that's ever gone to the Colonel is treated so incalculably worse. Every factory farm steer for burgers, every animal in service for America's voracious need for cheap meat at any cost is treated far worse than these animals we're talking about. So it offends me that they're being picked on. Pick on the big guys. Pick on the Colonel...Monsanto. Go after those fucking guys."

Hate to break it to you, Tony, but PETA has gone after KFC.

Photo by Neeta Lind via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License

  • capn awesome

    Hate to break it to you, but PETA is batshit insane and a joke in the nonprofit world.

  • brandonesque

    Put me in the pro fois gras camp. Damn that shit is good.

  • Native JD in DC

    Pro fois gras. I'll eat what I damn well please.

  • anne

    Why would someone choose to defend cruelty? Wolfgang Puck, clearly a very respected restauranteur, no longer serves it at any of his restaurants, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's won't sell it, and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that will ban the production and sale of foie gras in CA beginning in 2012. This isn't a radical idea campaign. Numerous countries have banned the force-feeding for foie gras.

    Anyone who thinks force feeding these birds 2-3 times a day enormous amounts of grain and fat that causes the livers to become swollen to 10 times the normal size isn't cruel has no moral compass. Why doesn't he give it a try and then he can tell us it's not cruel.

  • Bryan

    Anthony Bourdain is a liar and a fraud. Ducks at Hudson Valley do not approach people. Unlike ordinary hand-fed ducks, these ducks try to get as far as possible from the force feeder. Anybody who has been there knows this.

  • Native JD in DC

    anne - look at the average american. obese drunks and not in pain. and their livers are delicious too.

  • greg

    Foie gras is no worse than any other animal protein source, Tony is right on. Go look at the piles of shit cattle are raised in and tell me thats humane.

  • Indeed

    I think Bourdain's point is that so few people eat foie gras that it's hardly an epidemic worthy of passing laws against. Are there fast food places that I don't know about where an average joe pops in for lunch to get foie gras? Bourdain's right, the production of cheap meat in this country is what is truly disgusting and far more of a health risk than foie gras.

  • monkeyrotica

    After man, geese are probably the nastiest animal on the planet. They're too busy gang raping female geese When they're not occupied attacking people in parks and defecating huge oily dumps everywhere. Forcefeeding them is too good for them.

    I also recently dined at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in Dallas. It sucked. He needs to go back to torturing animals to extract the maximum flavor possible.

  • Raul

    I came here to post that Geese are the assholes of the animal kingdom. I feel no sympathy for them.

  • Raul

    I'm not sure why I capitalized "geese." Please ignore.

  • Bear

    I think he has a really excellent point about factory farming. Almost all meat consumed in this country comes from factory farms. Focus on that. Far more animals suffer in the vast factory farms than do geese for foie gras. Not to mention the meat is so pumped full of chemicals as to need a ingredients label. I'd love to see that made more public. Cheap meat is generally bad meat.

  • Fairplayer

    Yes, great points about factory farming, which is why many choose to be vegetarian. They don't want to support factory farms. That is not radical. Foie gras is the result of intentional cruelty. Put the food out and let the duck eat what it wants. If the duck were hungry, then it would eat. Force feeding for flavorful diseased liver is not natural. It is human selfishness at its worst. You can't justify the animals in these farms are happy if you are forcing food down thier throat. Anthony, you are a joke and I'm not convinced by the way you talk yourself into believing that this is okay, because you like the way it tastes. You are a selfish pig and no reservations will NOT be on my watch list because of this. I will spread the word.

  • Fairplayer

    And, Anthony, all you are doing is making excuses for the cruelty. You are typical selfish human being who likes food more than he likes to respect the world around him. Get lost!

  • http://wacitypaper Charace

    Colonel Monsanto refers to the kings/company of Genetically Modified seeds - cotton, soy, sugarbeets, canola, corn, and cotton, destroying our environment. I have to say Tony that I was not aware of the extent to which a duck is fed, to quote you 'more than it is ordinarily fed' to make foie gras. I use to l o v e foie gras. But having seen that grainy video for Hudson Valley I am sickened and confused.

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