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Foie gras: No matter how humanely ducks are raised, is their fattened liver hard to swallow?

Foie gras oysters at Sushi Sasa.
Foie gras oysters at Sushi Sasa.
Lori Midson

Where do you draw the line on what you will and will not eat? If you follow a restrictive diet, either by choice or medical necessity, your line leaves little wiggle room. Vegans won't eat Cheddary mac and cheese, much less a burger. People with celiac won't eat pizza unless it's made with a special flour blend, and so on. But what about the rest of us, the omnivores who skip from plants to animals and back again?

I've been pondering this question ever since I ate a lovely plate of truffle-salt-cured foie gras over brioche at Corner House, which I review this week.

See also:

- Corner House: Chef Matt Selby has found a home in Jefferson Park

- Photos: A closer look at Corner House

- 100 Favorite Dishes: Foie gras oysters from Sushi Sasa

Like veal, foie gras isn't just food, it's culinary politics. Given its propensity to polarize a table, I'd put foie gras up there with discussions of immigration and abortion as something to avoid with in-laws or on a first date.

The controversy lies in the feeding practice that leads to those fattened goose or duck livers, a practice that can involve feeding tubes and charges of inhumanity. Matt Selby, like many other conscientious chefs around the world, sources his foie gras from Hudson Valley Foie Gras, a 200-acre farm in New York he's toured twice. The facility takes pride in caring for its ducks, treating them humanely by keeping them cage-free and feeding them by hand.

But if you're not already a foie gras fan, is that enough to change your mind? Or is fattened duck liver too hard to swallow -- humanely raised ducks or not?


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