Friday, June 29, 2012

Foie Gras Felon


Foie gras, a fatty duck or goose liver, is adored by fine chefs and foodies alike.  In 2006 Chicago saw a brief ban of fois gras, which was overturned in 2008.  Opponents of the controversial food find it problematic due to the use of gavage, which involves the force-feeding of corn to quickly fatten a bird’s liver. 

Artist Keil Borrman’s piece, Foie Ethics, currently on exhibit through August 1, 2012 at Royal/T in “The Art of Cooking” exhibition, is timely as we approach California’s statewide ban of the foie gras delicacy on July 1st, 2012.  Borrman’s non-traditional positioning of the canvas on the floor suggests the soil or earth while allowing the collection of 11 foie gras terrines to protrude from the two dimensional geese rendered on the canvas.  The canvas placement brings to mind abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, who produced his drip paintings on the floor.   Borrman’s style is also reminiscent of Pollock’s early works.

As we approach the last days of foie gras, it may be appropriate to review chef Dan Barber’s 2008 “Foie Gras Parable” Ted Talk, wherein Barber details his visit to Eduardo Sousa’s farm in Extremadura, Spain where he raises foie gras geese without gavage.  In 2007 Sousa won the French culinary prize Coup de Coeur for his Pateria de Sousa.  An alternative account of Barber’s story can also be heard in the 2011 “This American Life Poultry Slam,” broadcast which includes details of Barber’s own attempts to produce gavage free foie gras.

There seems to be great discrepancy as to which law enforcement agency will in fact enforce the new foie gras law as reported by Evan Kleiman in the June 22, 2012 episode of “Good Food.”   Which California authority do you think should be given the responsibility of enforcing a ban on the sale and production of any consumable produced with the use of force-feeding? 

The art world is no stranger to censorship attacks.  In the increasingly complex world of food politics, it is interesting to observe that it is the chef experiencing censorship via food bans. Will artist Keil Borrman be found a foie gras felon or will the enforcing law agency understand that those terrines of foie gras in Foie Ethics have transformed from food object to art object?

You may desire to ponder these questions and other foie ethics over an $8.00 “FG & J” at UMAMIcatessen, that is, a Foie gras mousse, forest berry jam and peanut (yeast) donut.  Or perhaps a more traditional appreciation of your last foie bite may be enjoyed at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills.  For $175 one can participate in The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills’s very limited seating “…foie gras tasting from terrine to lobe, served both hot and cold with a little cheese and wine…” 

Au Revoir Foie Gras!
                                 Foie Ethics, 2012                                                                     Keil Borrman

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