Origins and celebrations
Foie gras is proud of a long and prestigious history. The first traces of the delicacy go back to the time of ancient Egypt more than 3000 years BC. The Egyptians had observed the bulimia of some birds before their migration and their natural ability to store fat in the liver. They reproduced the technique of assisted feeding on domesticated animals. This technique then spread throughout history especially in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, this tradition continued in Jewish communities who used to replace butter with goose fat to cook their meat. The Jews then spread the foie gras production in France, especially in Alsace, as well as in Hungary and along the Danube with the migrations of Jews from Bohemia. As palmipeds are fed with corn, farms were progressively deployed in areas where the cultivation of this cereal was developing like in the south-west of France.
The foie gras has therefore become a traditional gastronomic product whose production is closely linked to the culinary identity of some Euro Foie Gras member countries: in France, foie gras is recognized as being part of the Protected Cultural and Gastronomic Heritage and in Hungary, goose liver has obtained the distinction “Hungaricum”: a unique product to which Hungarians attach great importance.
Contributing to the culinary outreach of Europe, foie gras is rooted in the identity of several territories and celebrations are organized. In Hungary, the Goose Festival is celebrated on Saint Martin’s day which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Other examples in France: the Fest’Oie organized every year in the city of Sarlat to celebrate the goose of Périgord or the regional foie gras festival of the city of Phalsbourg near Strasbourg. These celebrations mean tradition, culture, heritage, conviviality, pleasure and sharing.
Everything is good in the fat goose and fat duck! If foie gras remains the most noble and renowned product, other products delight our taste buds: duck breast also called “magret”, confit, rillettes etc.
The presentations of foie gras:
Raw foie gras:
Processed foie gras
The appellations of foie gras:
Whole foie gras
The block of foie gras
Duck breast or “magret”
Foie gras professions
In the European Union, the sector generates more than 50,000 direct jobs with a turnover of 4 billion euros. It is also the source of a series of indirect jobs on the part of food suppliers, hatcheries, slaughterhouses and traders.
Proud breeders committed to quality
Passionate about their profession, fat palmipeds breeders are in contact with their animals on a daily basis. They want them to live in good health to ensure satisfactory growth and excellent product quality.
For many breeders, the passion for foie gras is inherited from parents and grandparents and the majority of farms in Europe are family and extensive. Breeders of fat palmipeds are sometimes also corn producers; this corn is used to feed their animals. Thus, they are the custodians of a terroir and traditional know-how that is the pride of European gastronomy.
Processors and Chefs at the service of good taste
Terrine of foie gras, magret, goose or duck confit … So many products with high added value that thrill the taste buds. At an earlier stage, slaughtering, evisceration and cutting activities are necessary. The processing of raw products takes place either on the farm or in specialized establishments.
As for the dish itself, foie gras is open to all fantasies. Consecrated in a series of recipe books, it reveals its softness and delicate taste and is a must for a multitude of restaurants in Europe and around the world. Unsurprisingly, it is also the theme of a series of culinary contests and awards. For example, the “Foie Gras Challenge” in France allows Young Creators to express their inventiveness by putting foie gras in the spotlight. Honouring foie gras means honouring a European gastronomic heritage carried by all links in the production chain.