"There is no accounting for tastes", said the old woman, as she kissed the cow. This must serve as my disclaimer. I am no epicure, no gourmand. While I would rather have good food than bad food, my idea of going out to dinner is "eat, pay and get out". Rhapsodizing over the delicate blending of flavor and aroma is beyond my ken.
There are some things that are passing for food, and delicacies even, and you have to wonder who was the first guy to try it… and just how hungry was he? The Pilgrims nearly starved to death in their first winter, yet they were stepping over lobsters stranded in the tide pools. They had plenty of protein under their noses, as it were, but It didn’t occur to them to try eating something that looked like a giant bug. And why would it?
I’m a great fan of the Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The ape-man tore the warm flesh of his kill with his strong, white teeth, preferring not to spoil it by cooking (like "civilized man"). Growing up among the apes, he was fond of other delicacies as well. Many was the time he’d turn over a rotten log to feast on succulent grubs. "Succulent" makes them sound good. My personal observation of grubs and maggots has been that they look pretty nasty. I have never tried them, despite Tarzan’s recommendation. I lean more toward Crocodile Dundee‘s assessment: "Well, you can live on it, but it tastes like s–t."
That’s the way I feel about many so-called delicacies, such as caviar. The extinction of the sturgeon is a mystery to me. I cannot fathom why anyone would eat fish-eggs unless they were starving and couldn’t find any succulent grubs.
Ditto and double-ditto for foie gras, the fatty liver of a duck or goose who has gotten so obese that his liver is about six times normal size with fatty degeneration — yum, yum! In my humble opinion, you cannot make a cracker tasty enough to overcome the nastiness of this substance. George Carlin once remarked that "There is no blue food." I can’t phrase it so succinctly, but I don’t think diseased tissue is a delicacy. A quick trip to the Wikipedia article on this stuff will let you know that there have been plenty of people, for centuries, who don’t agree with me.
Periodically at AVMA meetings the issue is raised and our delegates vote on supporting a ban on foie gras production. Unfortunately, as is the case with some other controversial issues, our association’s official position usually winds up being some sort of "we agree in principle, but we don’t want to offend any livestock producers, either."
For me this is just a no-brainer, since I hate the nasty stuff and wouldn’t eat it on a bet. However, as many bizarre concoctions as modern man has available to ruin his health, there are millions of people who are emotionally attached to ingesting foie gras. They won’t be giving it up without a fight.
Personally, I think there’s a way around the controversy. It’s not the fact that the goose or duck is killed and eaten that creates the controversy. That is certainly an issue for some, but there are plenty of amiable carnivores who simply deplore the force-feeding of the birds to achieve the diseased state. And you have to admit, the practice looks a little medieval in this photo. But what if you didn’t have to force-feed the birds?
Here in America, the land of obese people and obese pets, it is obvious that force-feeding is frequently unnecessary to achieve a diseased state. Supersize me, baby. I think the simple answer is to selectively breed for a strain of poultry that will just eat itself silly. I mean, if the rest of America can do it, why not our ducks?
Look at what we’ve done with our livestock. An Angus beef cow has an udder that would fit in your cap, while a Holstein dairy cow has an udder bigger than a bushel basket. If we could develop our incredible array of weird-looking dogs from the basic wolf, I think we can develop a fat duck. We could call them "Royal Corpulent" ducks.
We might have to also develop the duck equivalent of all-you-can-eat buffets and cable television, but I think force-feeding can absolutely be eliminated and we can still have obese ducks. I wonder if you could get the ducks to eat succulent grubs?