We are getting closer to the festive foie gras season. Adored by some, criticized by others, in particular for its mode of production which involves a force-feeding phase. The question is debated in France but also abroad.
Japan, a major importer of foie gras
Japan remains a good customer even if the Covid-19 crisis and the partial closure of restaurants for long months caused total imports of foie gras to drop by more than 60% in the archipelago last year. Japanese gourmets continue to consume enough to keep this dish on the menu of the great tables of French cuisine. Some restaurants only have foie gras recipes on the menu. One of these shrines is in the upscale Ginza district of Tokyo, and it’s simply called Tokyo Ginza Foie Gras. “For the Japanese, too, foie gras is a luxury product that is tasted on special occasions “, explains sa director Rie Igarashi. “We mainly have a female clientele, I don’t know if it’s specific to Japanese women, but they like the mouth feel of foie gras.“
In the Japanese imagination, foie gras is of course associated with French gastronomy, but the recipes are not necessarily.
“Our customers like foie gras cooked Japanese style, for example mixed with rice and egg in a sort of risotto, or foie gras / truffle croquettes, which is quite rare.”Rie Igarashi, restaurateur
This specialized restaurant must also juggle importers, especially when episodes of avian flu lead to certain origins being banned. “Foie gras is produced in different countries, so I prefer France and complements it with other sources such as the United States or Canada.“, concludes the restaurateur.
However, this attraction for foie gras does not prevent opposition as to the mode of production. Since 2010, animal welfare advocates have led campaigns against the consumption of fatty liver. There are sometimes demonstrations, petitions circulating online but which meet with relatively little response.
That said, the great years of foie gras in Japan are undoubtedly a thing of the past, because even if a recovery appears after the Covid-19 crisis, there is little chance of returning to the levels reached. previously. Because the younger generations are more reluctant. In 2014, for example, a supermarket chain had to give up offering a meal tray that contained foie gras due to numerous protests.
In Brazil, the bold time attracts the attention of the Supreme Court
In Brazil, foie gras is going through a real legal saga which has lasted for 6 years and which will very soon be judged by the Supreme Court. The highest court in the country must decide whether a municipality can ban foie gras as several cities in the south of the country have done, including the largest and the pioneer in this debate, Sao Paulo. The problem is to know if a city has such a faculty because it is a question of legislating on a consumer good, on its production, its import. Nor is the issue a hot topic of the day.
“The foie gras market in Brazil is still very small. It is a luxury product, very expensive and very little known.”Érick Jacquin, French chef living in Brazil
“I make foie gras because I have a French restaurant, continues Érick Jacquin. I’m very well known for it, I sell a lot of it, I was one of the first to do it. I sell maybe ten or twelve kilos a week.“
Animal rights groups are leading the fight. they challenge the mayors but also the governors via petitions which bring together a lot of people. It is still a bit strange to see that the Supreme Court is looking this month into foie gras when, according to a study, 20 million people do not have enough to eat every day in Brazil, which also denounces Erick Jacquin. “There are a lot of people who want to ban, maybe you have to understand them too, explains the chef. There is no foie gras without force-feeding, you have to admit the truth. But I think there are other things to do in Brazil before banning force-feeding, be careful with people on the streets. It is a country that is full of contradictions, of inequalities, we have to deal with it. It’s like that.“