Stop the Stuffing!

The other night I was standing on the métro and found myself face à face with a little affiche advising me, minding my own business as I rocketed below Paris, that it’s not alright to eat Mr. Ed. Then on Tuesday, I was taking a stroll through the thirteenth, on my way to have lunch with a friend in Chinatown, and came across a sign pleading a stop to the practice of le gavage, the forced stuffing of ducks and geese to make foie gras.

stop the gavage!

A lot of Americans think that all the French are unequivocally daring eaters, or aren’t picky, which is partially true: when you have a dinner party, you don’t have to worry about someone showing up who’s allergic to peanuts or dairy. Aside from a certain American who won’t eat squid, everyone around here eats almost anything, and just about everything might show up on a menu if you get invited to dinner. Except offal, which, in spite of the fact everyone thinks the French like to chow down on stomach lining, testicles, and kidneys, there’s plenty of them that turn up their noses at the idea of digging into a steaming dish of any of the above. btw: In case you invite me over for dinner, I’m with that camp.

It’s pretty interesting to see ads like these cropping up in France, imploring people not to eat certain foods. Americans might have a reputation for being unadventurous, but I couldn’t get anyone here to try horse milk, if you recall, so I had to recruit some brave Américains. Which makes me wonder if we Americans aren’t so lame after all.

There’s also of a bit of dubious discussions about how everyone here are either really careful or eat in moderation. Or that people are starving themselves to stay thin, or that the French eat anything—fries, crème brûlée, and triple-cream cheese with reckless abandon, yet stay remarkably thin, no matter what. I won’t make a million dollars writing a book that says au contraire, but like everyone else, the French come in all shapes and sizes, and are just like you and me. Well, except they speak French very well and somehow seem to know all those verbs.

Earlier this year, I posted about a cookie that I couldn’t eat. It was a macaron from the shop of pastry master Pierre Hermé, whose macarons I love.

Even the stinky ones. But one filled with foie gras somehow eluded temptation and when I wrote about it, a commenter remarked that I was a typical American who was part of the posse giving foie gras “bad press”. (Er, dude, I eat foie gras.)

ne mangez pas de cheval!

Only because it’s part of the French culinary heritage and vocabulary, and since I’m trying to fit in, I once thought about trying horse meat, just to give it a go. That is, until one of my commenters who works with horses in North America (where the horse meat in France is imported from), warned me not to, saying the meat was pumped full of chemicals and other icky stuff because the animals weren’t being bred for consumption. Not that I needed much prodding, but I decided that I didn’t really need to try horse meat after all. But it was close there for a while, folks…whew!

scallops

Anyhow, tomorrow is Christmas in Paris and all the traditional foods will likely be coming out, and I’m hoping everything is not only politically-correct (only because my first French teacher asked me, “Why is everyone in California so politically-correct?”, so I have an image to maintain), but delicious. I’m planning on scarfing down plenty of fresh oysters (which are on the à privilégier, or ‘safe’ seafood list) with a sauce made of French-made vinegar and local shallots from my CSA pannier.

Scallops from Brittany have become de rigueur this year, as “le must” to eat around the holidays, so I’m hoping there’s some of them, too. And I’m making a Lemon Cake filled with lemon curd, with candied sour cherries from cherries I picked and preserved from last summer, and fresh ginger ice cream which I churned up with ultra-luxurious crème fraîche from Isigny.

I don’t know what else is on the menu, but I’m pretty sure there won’t be any horse meat. If there is, I’ll let someone else have my portion…because ’tis the season of sharing.

Happy holidays and joyeuses fêtes—whatever you’re eating!

xx -dl

70 comments

  • Joyeux Noel, David!

    Do you have any insight as to why the French don’t seem to have the dairy, gluten, peanut butter, etc. allergies that are so prevalent in the US? Do people with the non-life threatening allergies just ignore them? Genetics? Or is it just a pure numbers thing – there are so many fewer French than Americans that it only seems that there are no allergies in France?

  • It’s about time the message began to spread. The conditions under which horses are transported and slaughtered are enough to give one nightmares in perpetuity. The chemicals with which they’re infused are just the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully passage of the bills in Congress now soon will put an end to this barbaric practice.

  • I read your blog regularly, but rarely comment. Today I’d like to chime in and wish you a Merry Christmas, and to say thank you for the ongoing culinary education via your blog.
    All the best to you in the New Year!
    I’m glad you were spared the horse meat. Personally I’d stick with the scallops!

  • Merry Christmas David and thank you for your fabulous blog !!!!

  • Joyeux Noel a vous aussi!

  • Merry Christmas to you and your readers.

    Thanks for all your interesting posts over the last year.

    Victoria, Calgary

  • Thanks for another year of great reading. Merry Christmas.

  • a merry & warm christmas to you & yours!

  • I was so absorbed by my reaction to the practice of horse slaughter that I neglected to wish you a happy holiday and a healthy, happy New Year. Thanks for such a terrific blog.

  • Merry Christmas David!

    Enjoy the holidays! Love your blog!

  • Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad David!
    Love your blog and your books.
    Thanks for sharing the whole year some amazing food.
    From Houston,
    Pilar

  • Whilst I don’t particularly object to horses (or for that matter dogs, guinea pigs or any other animal that western, Anglo-centric people like me consider to be somehow removed from the food chain) being bred and slaughtered for food – I don’t think that our particular cultural prejudices should be put into play when judging how others choose to eat – I find the practise of gavage pretty hard to stomach.

    There’s a very interesting talk on TED.com about a farmer in the south of Spain who makes foie gras (and foie gras that has been hailed as the best in the world, at that) entirely without gavage It’s a very interesting talk, and perhaps an ingredient that you should try to lay your hands on, although all my attempts have been rather fruitless, it’s about as common as rocking horse s**t!

    Here is the link to the talk

    Hi Dave: Here’s a link to the Iberian foie gras, which is hard to get (they’re currently out of stock), but would be interesting to try. It’s €523/kg, so will start saving my centimes! -dl

  • Merry Christmas, David! Your blog is my favorite of all the food blogs out there — I love learning and hearing about the food in Paris, France, and even other parts of Europe (the next best thing to being there) — and you’re so much fun! Also great that you post every few days….you sure keep things interesting.

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday and New Year.

  • Joyeux Noël!! (it’s funny to see the comment from Victoria in Calgary, above. I’m just 3 hours away from Calgary (and freezing my butt and everything else!) :)).

  • Thank you so much for your blog. I pull a feed from your blog into my Ning community (http://luanescookies.ning.com/) and look at your posts every day.

    I was very impressed by the article in Apartment Therapy which featured your tiny kitchen. I too live in an apartment with a small railway-car style kitchen, but that doesn’t stop me from creating delicious cookies and amazing meals.

    Wish I was there to enjoy your oysters, scallops and the lemon cake with ginger ice cream. It sounds delicious.

    Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate. Happy, happy!!
    Luane
    New York City

  • Merry Christmas, David! I wanted to express how much I enjoy reading your witty and brilliant commentary. I adore that you demystify and lend good insight into a region of the world that for whatever reason Americans have so much intrigue. I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  • I’m completely opposed to the production of foie gras, and one of my favourite foods in the world is… foie gras. I used to ride ponies in gymkhana when I was young, so would I eat horsemeat…? Yes, I have, and it was delicious. I hate the French but, when push comes to shove, I really quite like… the French. It’s a complicated life. Have a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

  • Looks like I am on the same wave length as you David. I snagged some Meyer lemons at Whole Foods and made the curd yesterday. To-day I’m making Tamasin Day-Lewis’ Almond Macaroon cake (using the Meyer zest) and serving it with the curd, blackberries and oranges in syrup and passionfruit sorbet. It isn’t Christmas without citrus of some sort.
    Must run out and get some oysters!

    Have a great holiday David

  • Very interesting post. I love the idea of adventurous eating, but I’m certainly not ready to get on board with horse meat. But then that raises the question, why would I be ok with eating Lamb. Actually, Lamb is one of the few meats I do eat, because it’s fairly easy to get local grass-fed stuff. A friend of mine who eats all sorts of conventional industrial meat won’t eat lamb for the reason of it being a cute animal. She also won’t eat rabbit for the same reason, but also because she keeps three rabbits as pets. So as I’m about to braise this leg of lamb for xmas dinner, I do have some ambivalent thoughts about it, but they are mostly dismissed by the delicious factor. This is the same case with rabbit, but then I wonder, if horse meat was delicious, would I be more interested in eating it….

  • Sounds like your Christmas menu is definitely on the “le must” list. But offal? Le gag! (Or is it la gag?)

    Merry Christmas David!

  • I’ve heard the practice of gavage is really not necessary. Geese automatically overeat in the fall to prepare for the long flight to escape winter. If we eat foie gras seasonally maybe all this goose abuse could stop. However I adore Foie gras and don’t really want to live without it, so have at it farmers, do what you must.
    But keep your horse meat, had it and see no reason to repeat the experience. Happy Christmas and Thanks for all the entertaining repartee.

  • Interesting post! Especially signs about foie gras popping up all over Paris, as you say. I know what you mean about how it’s a common perception that the French stay effortlessly thin while using butter and such with reckless abandon,. These same people would have you believe that the French don’t worry about it either, and are not swayed into excessive weight worries by advertising images etc–yet I have noticed that in Paris every pharmacy has prominent window displays with special herbal blends to help you lose weight, and with skinny women in bathing suits (maybe less, this is France!) showing why that product is a must buy!

    Maybe the french don’t have issues with obesity to the same extent, but I’m guessing people (and given advertising, particularly women) in both countries fret about their weight.

    And while I love foie gras and love macarons, I would agree that some things aren’t meant to go together. Like those recipes I’ve seen for chocolate covered garlic. And I had horse meat in Italy once, but only found out when I was halfway through ;-)

    Happy holidays!

  • I’ll add my two centimes here and say thanks for all the fun this year via your blog and whatnots.

    I’m very glad I caught this post today– I was all set to bring a literal version of Angels on Horseback to my friends’ Holiday potluck tomorrow. Disaster avoided.

    And if anyone asks me to pass the stuffing tomorrow evening, I shall give pause.

    Cheers, David.

  • Merry Christmas to you David, whatever you’re stuffing down. It’s all good, baby.

    kisses

  • Happy holidays! My grandfather in Atlanta ate pig brains with eggs for breakfast often – one of his favorite dishes. I had to buy them at the old Municipal Market downtown. One day he told me he figured he’d had over 200,000 eggs in his life, and those combined with all the other sources of cholesterol (pig brains are one of the worst) was probably going to cut into his life expectancy. He was 100 then, he only lived another 2 years. Hope your diet treats you as well.

  • Horse meat is wonderful……low in fat and cholestoral and delicious.
    I still lament the demise of the only horse butcher I knew in our Little Italy. When I made carbonnade using it, my guests were enthralled…..but I knew enough not to tell them ahead of time what they would be eating.
    It has become rather common in some restaurants but they get it from Quebec where a major supermarket chain sells it as well. Unfortunately that same chain does not sell it in my “Anglo” province. Quel dommage!

  • Merry Christmas, David, and thanks for transporting the rest of us to Paris (warts and all) with your insightful and colorful posts. Best wishes for a happy new year!

  • Happy Holidays. Thank you so much for the treats you bring us with each blog. I truly appreciate your writing and the fact that you blog so frequently. I am looking forward to what 2010 brings you so that you can share it with all of us!

  • Merry Christmas, David. Discovering your blog this year has given me many moments of happiness.

  • Merry Christmas David

    And thanks for all your posts over the last year.

    Have to say I adore Foie gras and am totally allergic to nuts (only raw ones – am OK with cooked peanuts etc) seafood and fish – never used to be but then as a child I could take penicillin but now it makes me look like the Michelin Man and GP tells me next time it will be fatal! Horse – no!!!!!!! But a huge fan of offal – liver, kidneys, heart etc.

    Watched ‘Sound of Music’ today – did you ever see it at Chatelet? (Saw a bit on the Telethon – ugliest group of children and as for Maria……………………)

    Bizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Eli
    x

  • When I went to Paris a few years ago, I wasn’t quite as impressed as others seem, but I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and it has definitely interested me in giving it another chance one day. Next time, I’ll be armed with some of your recommendations, which will probably make the experience quite different.

    Merry Christmas!

  • May all the merriness of the Season fill your heart, you supreme foodie blogger, for all the joy you’ve brought into our world. You’ve revolutionized the way my husband and I shop, the way we cook and the way we eat. Plus, I’m baking now! We go into the new year reveling in what future posts may bring. Thank you for So Far.

  • Joyeux Noel, David! I made your gingersnap recipe the other day for a Christmas cookie and added candied ginger- just because I love it so much. They’re my new favorites.

    And made a chocolate babka yesterday that wasn’t your recipe… but was fun to make. Tomorrow, I may try that lemon curd with some Meyer lemons that have been languishing in the fridge.

    Merci for an entertaining blog and the sustenance of good food ~
    x

  • Merry Christmas, David!
    And watch out for the “asino” on the menus in Italy. It’s donkey!

  • What a lot of people don’t realize about gavage is that it is not inherently bad for the animal, but like many things it can be done well or it can be done poorly. I’ve seen animals eager for gavage at one farm and others run from it at another.

  • I ate horse once when I was living in Central Asia. I didn’t know what it was until after, but it did taste a little different and was definitely a different texture. I haven’t eaten any since because of what you said. Somehow I can eat Bessie but not Black Beauty.

    Happy Holidays!

  • The foie gras macaron from Pierre Hermé is actually very good, subtle, though a bit rich. Same with the olive oil one! And I am generally a plain vanille macaron person myself. Try them, you may like them :)

  • Love, love, love your blog. Have made Romain’s vinaigrette mine – and could live on your warm lentil salad.
    But David, David, David: two Us in de rigueur next time, OK?

    Susan
    Montreal

  • David….I’m a “latecomer” and have just discovered your blog. I lived in Paris for several years and miss it terribly. You bring it all back and make me feel as if I am once again walking the streets of my treasured 20th Arrondissement. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I am in Seattle and enjoying the holiday with a little bit of the French thrown in: I made Daube de Boeuf for my holiday dinner. Just can’t rid myself of that French influence! Luckily! Joyeux Noel!

  • Merry Christmas, David. I really enjoy you writing, recipes, and insight in the things. I love food, but food is so much more than just the eating; there’s always a story. …or at least there should be. Again, Merry Christmas.

  • cara mia: I don’t really know why there’s not a lot of people with allergies, or those that are aware of them, as folks are elsewhere. There is not lactose-free milk being advertised and my health food store has not only a gluten-free section, but gluten-free bread (which they keep on the same flour-dusted shelf as the regular bread!)

    But perhaps someone who is French might be able to answer better than I.

    Linda H: I’ve actually had ane, in a sausage. It was somewhat musty-tasting, which could’ve just been the sausage. Although now that I’ve had it, I don’t feel the need to repeat the experience.

    LB: Yes, my friends who live in Gascony who’ve spent times on the farms say the same thing. But I do try to eat foie gras that was produced at a farm, and not in a factory.

    Sara: It’s pretty interesting the pharmacy windows filled with ads for creams and pills that will make you thinner. I used to think that the French were more gullible, and then I realized they have all that stuff in America; I just never paid attention to it!

    It’s interesting how that book about French women being thin took off. I just read it recently and it was really well put together, although with 40% of the women in France considered overweight, I’m not sure the premise is true. (Nor do I know any women who drink “leek water”…)

    Charlotte: I’m sure they’re good. It’s just there was something about that macaron that made me not able to even taste it, and I’ve tried some odd desserts in my time. If anyone can make it good, it’s Pierre Hermé. But I’ll stick with chocolate, coffee, and caramel…and save the foie gras ones for others!

  • Can anyone tell me what happens to the rest of the duck (or goose) that is force fed for foie gras? I’ve always wondered if their meat is edible, or somehow tainted in the process.

    Also, I find it interesting that people can find the practice of gavage abhorrent, but still be tempted by its pleasures. Perhaps I’m on my own, but I find that if an animal is treated badly in its life, this impacts on the way it tastes, and my own sense of disgust at the idea of eating it. Or maybe that’s just because, for me, finding out the way an animal lived is a necessary precursor to eating it.

    Maybe, David, just maybe, that Pierre Herme macaron is reeking of factory farmed foie gras?

  • Angela: The French use the breasts from the ducks, les magrets, which are delicious, rich, and meaty. I’ve been to the duck market in Gascony (and Gimont—Note: images of eviscerated ducks in Gimont link), where the ducks are lined up for inspection by shoppers; they’re already plucked and ready to purchase, but are otherwise intact, and friends who live in the region who know the producers say the ducks are treated very well. They do look a lot better, fresher, and healthier, than the supermarket poultry I’ve seen elsewhere.

    I would imagine that Pierre Hermé uses the best-quality ingredients (and the prices reflect that!), but since everything he does is pretty top-notch, I can’t imagine him skimping when it came to the foie gras, which isn’t that expensive here.

  • Many happies, David! Look forward to reading your adventures in the new year! :)

  • I am so glad you mentioned dairy allergies! Being an American with a dairy allergy (not intolerance) I feel neglected at holiday parties being surrounded by cheese and butter. I have been to a few parties this year where I couldn’t eat or had one option. Not that this post was about allergies, but I get excited when someone recognizes that people like me exist! I feel like I am the only one with an allergy at times! So David, thank you! I do try to live vicariously through you by reading about and your butter soaked breads and pastries, yum. I have been making them with vegan butter but I’m sure they aren’t as good as using the real thing!

    Merry Christmas!

  • Wish you a merry Christmas, a happy birthday and a lovely new year, David. Thanks for writing here, particularly about Paris.

  • Lemon cake with lemon curd . . . I’ll have some please!! Thank you.

    Happy holidays, David and I’m so happy I discovered your blog.

  • Pretty please share your lemon cake recipe. It’s not that I need somewhere to put the lemon curd I made from your recent recipe (oh no, that’s long gone); rather, I need somewhere to put the lemon curd that I keep making so I won’t stand in the open fridge and take spoon to jar or, worse yet, spoon to jar and jar to sofa. I could easily go over the edge and become a lemon curd junkie, and then I would have to join lemon curd eaters anonymous and talk about every minutia of lemon curd, which would only make me want it more, and then resolve myself to a 12-step recovery plan that would likely exclude lemon curd from the program. And, that would be the pits. So, you see, you would be saving me from a life without lemon curd if only you would share your lemon cake recipe, so I could repurpose the curd and stop eating it straight from the jar. Okay, I’m kidding. Sort of. Not really.

  • David, Thank you for all the wonderful commentary you’ve given me this year, the great recipes, and the taste of Paris that I need to make it through those dismal days in a Montana grocer…you’ve enhanced my enjoyment of life and for that I’m very grateful!

    Joyous New Year to you and yours.

  • Give me foie gras any day – you can keep the bread stuffing. I don’t think it is necessarily inhumane. CAFOs that supply fast food restaurants and typical American supermarkets on the other hand, are inhumane.

    Actually, when I saw your post headline in my google reader, my heart went pitty-pat because I thought finally you had a low carb or wheat epiphany. Not quite, but rather good anyway. I’d try horse in a heartbeat, but after I found a “clean” source, as I would with beef, lamb, bison, venison, bear, pork, poultry, fish, or whatever.

    I cleaned out the deep freeze for Christmas dinner, making the River Cottage Pot-au-feu with some bison soup bones (skinny ends of the shank), veal shanks, and meaty lamb neck bones, which my English husband declared the “perfect” Christmas dinner. I was just “cooking lazy” this afternoon (and leftovers for tomorrow’s dinner). Go figure.

  • cara_mia,

    Excellent questions! I wonder, too.

  • We had foie gras for the reveillon and for Christmas day and boy was it delicious. Instead of worrying so much how geese are fed I would just assume people worry about how other people are treated around the world.

  • David,
    No matter the subject of your blog, you never fail to make me giggle. Sometimes Americans living in Paris can use a good laugh. WTF! Anyway looking forward to 2010 with your insights into glorious food and humorous cultural anecdotes!
    Best to you and yours!
    Suzanne

  • Just wanted to wish you a happy holiday! I’ve been following your blog since I started planning a trip to Paris last year……I’ll be there on Tuesday!!!! I hope you left some scallops and oysters for us! Looking forward to spending the New Year in Paris, which I’ve come to anticipate even more since “seeing” it through your eyes! First stop….Dehillerin!!!

  • Merry Christmas,David. Thank you for all the lovely recipes.

  • Merry Christmas, David. :)

  • I am French; I have lived in the US for a while now both in San Francisco and now in Philadelphia. Obesity is reaching France, especially among children but the government has set it one of their top national health priority : marketing campaigns promoting exercise (MangerBouger), healthy lunch options in public schools (I almost cry when I see what my daughter’s school dares to offer in the US!), etc.

    One of the other thing that makes French people not put on weight as much as Americans do is “portion controls”: “The bigger, the better” does not work when it comes to food in France. Last but not least, we don’t snack and eat at regular times. That’s what I am trying to tell my American friends, especially when it comes to feeding their kids because there is so much at stake!

    Oh, yes, I love foie gras but get mine from farmers I know in France who treat their animals with care. I think that once you have seen how industrialized cattle, poultry or anything else for that matter is treated in the US, you either stop eating or you just start to think twice about the way you eat. Thanks to you, David, we are all more aware of that! Happy Holidays to you !

    PS: Why can’t we get whole Coquilles St Jacques in the US?

  • Gaelle: There is that MangerBouger campaign (for those of you who don’t know, the URL and brief message about nutrition appears under ads for food products in France), but I have a feeling it’s like the US government’s nutritional pyramid; few take the time to read it or follow the guidelines.

    Researches find a correlation between obesity and tv habits, since people often prop themselves in front of the tv, and snack. Which is an activity (or inactivity) that more French people are engaging in. Another is that food is really cheap in America whereas in France, it’s quite expensive, so it’s a bit more challenging on the wallet to overeat here.

    You can likely find whole sea scallops in America; we used to get them at Chez Panisse from our fish supplier. But they stopped carrying them due to sustainability issues.

    Lisa: That Lemon Cake recipe is in my book Room for Dessert which, after 11 years, is now out-of-print. But it will be reprinted in my upcoming book, Ready for Dessert, due out in April.

    Anna: I love pot au feu! And I love that River Cottage book. Hope yours turned out well..

  • The reason nut allergies are more prevalent in the US is probably because of flawed national advice on feeding them to children-it’s since been found out that NOT given small children nuts can MAKE them allergic. Doctor’s advice is now to give small children nuts, but that’s too late for older generations and many people with children aren’t yet aware of the updated advice.

    I’ve no idea about the prevalences of people with gluten intolerances but I do know that some of the private, none-medical tests people get to tell them to avoid gluten have little basis in scientific evidence (there was a BBC programme about them where an undercover reporter tested them out and got completely different results in each test, even two tests from the same company, and the science behind these tests is often shaky at best)-I don’t know whether these companies are more prevalent in some countries than others. However, I don’t mean my comment to insult the many people who have taken these tests in good faith, or those with coeliac’s disease or other gluten intolerances-purely the quacks who try to make money from other people’s problems and fears.

  • Thanks for your response David, and the links are enlightening.

  • Why characterize people who don’t want to drink horse milk or chow down on some poor beast’s testicles as “lame” or “unadventurous”? I suppose these words were meant to be a bit of gentle teasing, but I really don’t understand why people who are boorish eaters ought to be considered to set the standard by which all others ought to measure up to.

  • When I moved to Chile as a Peace Corps volunteer, I saw stores near the market downtown with signs showing horses’ heads. I thought they were for off-track betting.

    Um. No.

    After I had been working for a few months, my co-workers, who had already had a sheep killed and butchered in the yard behind our office*, then hung the meat on the stair rail for a day before barbecuing it, told me that I had to try horsemeat because it was an important part of their indigenous culture and I wasn’t going to disrespect their culture, was I?

    I was too dumb and PC at the time to say no. Now, I would have no problem, but then, I was a sissy. So I tried it. It was lean and a little gamey for my taste, but it was better than the sheep. Mutton has never been my favorite.

    * They jabbed it with a sharp stick through the neck, drained the blood, which they later mixed with lemon juice and cilantro and ate, then removed the skin by making a hole in the ankle and blowing it up like a balloon until the skin separated from the flesh.

  • Another interesting post, you have a way of illuminating subjects David.

    I don’t know about the nut allergy question, but I have heard that there is a genetic component to gluten allergies. I have a friend who was recently diagnosed and once she removed it from her diet a number of the health issues she had improved. The problem is how much of our industrialized food in the US include wheat products and gluten – something she has discovered to her dismay. Also, she had lived with the allergy for many years without knowing it (she is in her 60’s) so is it possible that it does exist in the population in France in equal numbers but simply isn’t diagnosed or tested for much? The gluten free products in your stores says it is somewhat known.

    Happy New Year David, and thank you for another enlightening year of posts.

  • I’ll be sure to buy a copy hot off the press in April. Thanks for the heads up!

  • It is encouraging to see that animal protection groups are raising their profile around Paris. I sincerely hope it is a sign that more French people are beginning to question their consumption of animal products that are cruel in the extreme.

    Many thanks for your inspiring blog, and all the best in the New Year.

  • Hi David,

    I’m not sure if anyone’s still reading the comments, but I thought I’d still weigh in on the foie gras and food allergy discussion. I’m just coming up for air after Christmas and have a brief breathing space before Japanese New Year starts tomorrow with mochi pounding in the garden.

    As a cook, it is so wonderful to never worry about allergies and various food particularities with my Japanese guests. I have one vegetarian friend, but he’s American. Most Japanese will eat anything you put in front of them. In fact, choice doesn’t really come into play. After dinner, you could serve them coffee black or coffee with cream, they’ll drink either. Though I do ask.

    But the kids are a different story. Allergies are here with a vengeance (though less than the U.S.). I have had students allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts and gluten. Not to cause an uproar, but I wonder if there isn’t a correlation with industrialized, processed foods in the diet? I’m 53, and remember my friend’s family using Lawry’s seasoning packets when I was a kid. My mother served frozen vegetables. Compared to France and Japan, the U.S. has a much longer history of using processed food. It’s counterintuitive not to make that connection.

    As for foie gras, well it all goes back to the industrialized method vs. the farm method. But that goes for anything: force-feeding farmed tuna in the Mediterranean sea, battery chickens, feed-lot beef and pork…the list goes on. I understand some people have a stomach lurch reaction to gavage, but I wonder if they would still think that after actually visiting a small family goose farm. Gently done, this is a natural process that has been going on for generations. And one thing the Japanese and the French share is the idea of no waste. Responsible foie gras producers in the Southwest use every bit of the bird, save the feet and the heads (and the stomach entrails). Unfortunately, American foie gras producers cannot say the same. Why? No market for stuffed neck, gésiers or cuisse confit. Though the way I hear it from my friends in the SW, the French are buying way less confit and more of the canned products that are an open and heat meal.

    I never ate horse, though I have to say whale is pretty damn good.

    Nancy

  • My post Christmas suggestion for fattening ducks and geese: perhaps if they had the same access I do to unlimited buttery Christmas panettone no one would have to force feed them anything. My liver is just about ready to be made into foie gras.

  • hi Nancy: I’ve heard that theory expounded, although in Italy, for example, some estimate that nearly 30% of the people are gluten-intolerant for genetic reasons.

    I don’t know if that’s true [this article says that all kids in Italy are tested for gluten-intolerance] but I do know that in supermarkets, there is ample shelf space given to things like gluten-free pasta.

    And I would imagine Italy’s rate of industrializing their food is somewhat similar to France’s. So it’s curious to see the differences..

  • After living outside the US for 18 years and spending the past few summers travelling in America, Italy, France and Mexico, I’ve come to the realization that Americans aren’t quite so lame where eating is concerned. You can find good raw ingredients and good ethnic (for want of a better word) restaurants in any American city of a decent size. It may take some searching but it’s out there and it’s getting better all the time. Probably due in part to all the American foodies (I hate that word) and in part to the large number of immigrants bringing their cuisine to the US with them (roll on immigration…if you bring your food, you’re welcome to stay as far as I’m concerned).

    In contrast, try finding a decent Thai or Mexican meal in Rome. Paris is a little better, but not much. Of course I don’t go to Paris to eat Mexican, but some variety is nice and if I lived there I’d certainly miss the variety. Though I might be willing to give up a little variety in return for the bread.

    That said, there is still a large part of the American population that just wants cheap, recognizable food. And a lot of it. But the percentage of the population that wants good food and is willing to pay for it is rising, I hope.

  • David,

    Sometimes I feel I’ve come late to the party here. The first blog I ever read was last spring, so I’m sure my occasional comments may trigger an eye roll or two (“god, I’ve heard that one about a million times”). Oh well, can’t be helped.

    You got me interested in the prevalence of Celiac Disease in Italy and I spent far too much time checking it out. I’m sure you came across the high statistics in Ireland as well. Another interesting headline: “Mayo Clinic Study Finds Celiac Disease Four Times More Common than in 1950s.” I’d add the hyperlink, but don’t know how to do it in a comment, what can I say, still blog challenged.

    Nancy