Marijuana and Cannabis News
By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in Culture
Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 8:20 pm
|Foie gras with mustard seeds and green onions in duck jus|
The World According To Jack
I'm Tired of Having Shit Jammed Down My Throat
Commentary By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
Gavage; (French orig., to gorge)
1. Practice of feeding an animal against their will
2. Supplying a nutritional substance by means of a plastic tube.
On July 1st of 2012, California banned Foie Gras from being sold in state's restaurants or stores. Those epicureans among us know that Foie Gras is made from the liver of a goose or a duck that has been forcibly enlarged by being fed utilizing a long funnel that transfers corn or other grains directly into the bird's stomach. The mash is forced down their throats many times a day fattening up the birds for slaughter while producing, some say an exquisite liver-like substance in the process. That's basically Foie Gras, not counting thousands of years of French history.
This popular and well-known delicacy is like smashed giblets drenched with butter purée and pressed in a liver-casing that's guarantees a creamy rich good time. Now it is prohibited to sell Foie Gras in California, just as it has been outlawed Illinois and in London for some time.
So your first thought is, when they outlaw Foie Gras, only outlaws will have Foie Gras.
Wrong, Ducky. When the ban came down prohibiting the fatty bloated liver spam, dedicated activists hardly wasted any time responding with the birth of the Foie Gras Black Market. The parallels to the prohibition on... alcohol are uncanny.
|Copyright 2004 David Monniaux|
|The entire foie gras|
A militant flock of Gras lovers started an underground network creating temporary spots called, "Foie Speakeasy," just as Chicago and many other American cities did during the ban on alcohol. These private affairs are where the persecuted foodies can cop and eat without fear of being busted or risk being humiliated by those who view force-feeding animals as inhumane.
They might meet in a location such as Golden Gate Park or a host of other places in the City as the network builds. Anywhere they can hide from the Man while still stuffing their mouths with the gilded goose of contraband is what these outlaws seek. For security reasons the exact destinations remains undisclosed until released to ticket holders via email two hours preceding the event.
Much like the Occupy Movement anarchist who squats in the park anxiously living in the fear of never exactly knowing when the Man's coming to roust him from his fragrant sleeping bag. Continuing the same convoluted thinking, that's almost what's it is like for a Foie Gras addict. He's never sure where their next spoonful of goose liver is coming from.
Do you buy from strangers who might rip you off or sell inferior or faux Gras like the so-called "Bathroom Gins" that thinned the herd during alcohol's prohibition era? Or do you patiently wait for your phone to buzz letting one know when it's gizzard time?
|An ancient Egyptian bas relief depiction shows the practice of overfeeding geese extends back thousands of years|
Every junkie knows that nervous pacing and waiting. Some say the waiting is the hardest part.
What about these to Foie Speakeasy? How safe are these quack-houses? Is it wise to give your name out to a stranger not knowing if that greasy stranger on the other side of the cell might be narc whose main objective is to throw your rich ass in jail?
The Man could be anywhere and everywhere, if the coppers decide to enforce the crime. The word on Chestnut Street is for a person living in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe's the closest 'hot deli.' 'Hot Deli' is slang for businesses that are still legally sell Foie Gras. Just remember to purchase your fix on Nevada's side because of the perplexity and confusion of this law.
Otherwise the stinky gastric California Gendarme will bust your ass for holding on the wrong side of the lake. You can bet the price of pate just went up on the Oregon border in the same way Canadian distillers profited when the US became dry in 1920.
It is interesting to note mistrust that's building between the Foie Gras Outlaws and law enforcement as prohibition takes hold. In the mysterious email that's sent to the libertines alerting the Gras network to the exact date, time, and location of the upcoming Foie Speakeasy, this instance in a secluded area of the park, you could feel the palpable tension of what it is like to endure the renegade Foie Gras existence.
|Poached moulard duck foie gras au torchon with pickled pear.|
From that email, a civilian can decipher the drama of what it's like to live that precarious balance of putting on appearances of living the straight life and having to pretend that Bubbe's chopped liver will be enough to get you through until you can score some of the good stuff. For the addict, it is the uncertainty of not knowing where the next Gras slider is coming from that provokes the loneness that intrinsic to the Gras game. And it never ends.
Case in point, in small letters at the bottom of the email announcing the group's upcoming location for the next Speakeasy, it reads ominously: "If attaining permits for the park is a problem, we may have to find an alternative location indoors. Check your emails for updates. We do have an app now."
That's what it's like living on the run. The Man's everywhere when you're breaking laws, dude.
Like any other subculture they have their own secret language for when they want to use or score some liver but not letting on to the Boo-hoo Betty Whites of the world who complains of animal cruelty at the drop of a cat. Instead of '420,' or '710,' the code words used among marijuana or cannabis oils users that there is a "Boge Session" or pot party about to begin, the Gras crowd also has their slang. The radical wing of the Foodies Elite uses the phrase, "16 Duck Liver Lane," to let others know where the next happening will be and where they can get their Gras on.
I am invited by a "friend' to the 'Speakeasy.' Even though the leaders of the liver underground were able to secure park permits under the guise of having a 'picnic,' at the last minute it was determine that the San Francisco fog was too thick and runny for the sweater-around-the neck crowd so the Speak was moved. It's now in this guy's house on the edge of the Mission district.
Our host is a Facebookie who owns a small mansion whose massive living room juts out like Jay Leno's proscenium chin shadowing the wide San Franciscan boulevard below. A mahogany table that's the size of a small battleship is covered with many small silver trays of tiny Gras appetizers for starters.
Once they get their first spoonful of the creamy pate in their tight little pie-holes, or "get normal again," as they call it, they begin to mellow out, relax and open up like regular people might do at a T.G.I.F's or Applebee's after eight or nine Grey Goose Cosmos. The bird intestine-eating banditos noticeably begin to chill as more members join the temporary Speakeasy that's 'honked up' in Mission. Guys in their 50s who are machine-buff but personality weak, walk in smiling with iPhone lit, smacking wetted lips looking for the silver trays that hold the precious shit.
The sliced medallions of pressed grains saturated with blood and bile for binding are the rewards that await those who follow their own laws. You can feel like it's on! Weirdly, a woman in black square glasses announces that the idea of breaking the law eating Foie Gras makes her feel freer. Giving in to the moment she does a little rebellious dance to the hoots of the small crowd assembled.
Over hors d'oeuvres the gastronomic outcasts' conversations turns to the police and the laws, saying both of them don't make sense. "Ducks and Geese like gavaging; they don't have a gag reflex. They'd do it to themselves if they could." After the long hard twenty days into it, the group wonders if prohibition will ever end.
A man holding a white wine remarks that when he gets depressed over the persecution that someday may result from their embracement of just a food... "A food that been around since the time of the Pharaohs," the host adds.
|Modern garage feeding process, which takes 2-3 seconds to complete.|
The nearly weeping fellow says when he's feeling pessimistic...like when it seems like the Foie Gras ban's never going to end; to make himself feel better he conjures up the Budweiser commercial that shouts, "Prohibition is over!" The group claps reassuringly along with the optimistically teary guy chanting, "Someday, someday."
After weeks of hiding their love for the Gras, you can see the overwhelming collective joy on the law breakers face as they anticipate the goose grease sliding down the corners of their country club mouths as more trays of Foie Gras are brought out. One of the guys, we'll call him, "Stuart Margolin, DDS," jokes that the main reason the Foie Speakeasies are always dubbed, 16 Duck Liver Lane is just mostly to piss-off the PETA chicks and the others who frown on the lovers of the Gras doing their own thing.
There's a price to pay for doing your own thing, especially when it comes to the expensive Foie Gras Black Market. At this underground speakeasy, for around a 100 bucks, the Foyers as their known, receive 10 teeny-tiny courses of illegal chow spread out over a few hours of goose-tasting happiness. These clandestine diners are beginning to spit up all around the country wherever Foie Gras is banned.
In private homes or rented backrooms, maybe on the Redwood picnic tables in the park if weather permits. These outlaws with corkscrews who hide in the shadows next to us with sealed bottles of Sauternes and cliché Merlots seem like they could be just like us. Except these otherwise law-abiding citizens are driven to the medium depth of criminality because they do not know how to say "No," when it comes to the Gras.
For pushers and dealers, the fines can be steep. $1,000 per day will be charged to your establishment if you get caught selling the Gras. For the user, treatment isn't option unless you you're thinking a personal trainer. There are no fines for the individual, yet.
|Foie gras with onions and figs|
Today, or someday, soon, they're going to go after the producers. Not the guy who imports it. Not the guy who sells it on one of California's neighboring borders. They're going to go after the guy they catch with the stuff. Now it's just a matter of the cops pursuing the pate perpetrators in order to get inside the golden goose's liver syndicate. To squeeze out the brains behind the master plot that continues to smuggle Foie Gras inside the Golden State.
Can it be stopped? Is Foie Gras too steeped into our culture for us to change? Are we responsible for what we consume? Most importantly, what about the children?
Even though I'm sure Law Enforcement hasn't received the memo yet concerning the prohibition of Foie Gras, it doesn't mean the gout-infested outlaws who wobble among us are going to take this standing up. No, they're taking this sitting down.
In the heart of suburban protest, that tightly clenched fist city of Walnut Creek, known for their unremitting magnanimous support for those of the Caucasian persuasion, one of the local restaurants is bucking the system by offering a gourmet tasting plate. For one hundred and fifty dollars, the highfalutin epicurean can experience a combo pack of exotic grub that will have the most discriminating palate jumping for more. And because you ordered the 'Specialty Plate,' wink, wink, it comes with a free mound of Foie Gras. See, the law says you can't sell it. It doesn't say anything about giving it away.
Rob Black of the Golden Gate Restaurant Associated said, [This loophole reveals that the ban] "is the product of a poorly written law. The current ban creates a level of ambiguity that is both unclear and unfair."
|Gaia (Global Action in the Interest of Animals)|
|Gavage feeding as documented by animal rights and welfare group, GAIA, Voice of the Voiceless|
It's not just the daring restaurants in the hinterlands of the Bay Area that are thumbing their upturn noises at Johnny Law. The Feds are protecting the liver eating outlaws, even if they're not aware of it.
The Presidio Social Club, located in San Francisco near the entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge, is serving Foie Gras, let the law be damn.
Restaurant owner, Ray Tang claims that since his tavern resides in Presidio National Park, he's exempt because the land is federally owned, not state owned. Mr. Tang doesn't believe that he's required to adhere to the state's rules. The social club and bar currently doesn't possess a liquor license.
"We're not trying to start a riot or exploit any loopholes," Tang told The Huffington Post. "We're just wanted to let our customers know that this is an option." Though protesters haven't come knocking on the door just yet, Tang admitted it may just be a matter of time. "We definitely feel them coming," he said.
The Federally protected fatty goose liver dispensary, The Presidio Social Club has been sold out on every night that Gras was on the menu. "We really didn't know it was going to be this big," said Tang.
Rob Black further added, "Presidio Social Club's newfound loophole raises a slew of questions. This is obviously leading other businesses on federal and Indian land to explore the options that are available to them," he said.
We couldn't reach The Presidio Trust for their opinion on the actions of The Presidio Social Club for a comment. We did learn that they've told the restaurant that their actions are inconsistent with The Presidio. We are told that the issue has been referred to the California attorney general's office for review.
A patron did give a comment.
"If it was banned everywhere we probably wouldn't be having it. Because it's here, it's an opportunity," Greg P. said from inside the Club.
At press time, the Foie Gras cowboys and cowgirls continue to flaunt the law with their private speakeasies and suburban restaurants that know the difference between a profitable loophole and a slimy, biliously tube that is forced down an animal's throat.
The government seems unable to proceed with any arrests or convictions. Even with the addresses posted by the Foie Gras Set advertising the sale of the illegal gloo and restaurants marketing, 'Gourmet Plates,' in newspapers and on the Web, the police are stymied.
There are some that might speculate that the ban isn't being enforced by police because it was a badly written bill leaving law enforcement to decipher the intentions of the legislators. Others might contend that in the case of the Presidio Social Club's insistence that they are protected because the liver consumption is being done on Federal land it is another example of States' Rights vs. Federal Rights. Some might argue when addicts are involved, there isn't any logic.
People are going to do what they're going to do. You can't stop human nature. That once you tempt people by stating, "This apple is out of limits," we then crave it. For those whose passions run to the dark side; where an object of desire doesn't have a name except, "I need it and I need it now!" Who is to say what is right or wrong?
The other consideration is San Francisco's arbitrary history of looking the other way when it comes to what they'll persecute and not. During prohibition of alcohol in the '20's, San Francisco was notoriously known to serve booze in her fancy restaurants and conspicuously open bars as the rest of the country went underground.
But unlike alcohol which was embraced by the City, the Federal government has been amped up the prohibition on marijuana in Northern California. Many arrests are based on technicalities or vagrancies trumped up by bullying Feds. Marijuana hasn't experienced the 'hands off" approach by law enforcement that other illegal rings have, whether it be liver or gin.
One could speculate that is enforcement of any laws is based on the value system of those in power. To simplify, booze and Foie Gras okay: Marijuana is bad. Hence why one criminal can operate freely without fearing society's wrath and another otherwise law-abiding citizen because they smoke pot, can lose their land, family and freedom due to the whims of an arbitrary government.
We're almost a month into the prohibition of Foie Gras. The Black Market is really here. In this short time the stuff-goose liver movement remarkably has been able to produce a string of suburban restaurants that beats the law any night they choose.
They've established a Facebook-based network of liver-lovers who meet spontaneously like a group of restless yoga fanatics throughout the Bay Area whenever the pate's running. And in their undying pledge to show that not all laws pertain to everyone; Mr. Tang's shop on Federal land to precludes his restaurant from the state's short arm of the law touching him.
In less than a month, three different examples of Foie Gras illegal options have surfaced. Hush-hush clubs, renegade restaurants, and a privateer who feels he's above the state's limited view. All three paradigms are against the law. All three operations are successful and profiting from a prohibition barely a month old.
Laws are great when you can pick and choose the ones you're going to follow without having to worry about the consequences stemming from law enforcement and an intrusive Federal government.
07:41 PM on 07/14/2012
No two ways about it.
Federal supremacy trumps states rights.
07:43 PM on 07/14/2012
Not really, I just said that to stir up the Liberal Anti-Tenthers.
But on federal property, federal law is ... well, the law.
You DO understand the definition of a "loophole" don't you?
Clearly you don't.
07:46 PM on 07/14/2012
You are still within SF city limits. If they decide to push the issue, i bet you LOSE. There's no Federal law guaranteeing you the right to serve that dish.
You don't get to pick and choose which state laws you're going to obey or ignore just because you're on an old army base.
07:49 PM on 07/14/2012
Maybe they can start an entire section on their menu for tortured animal dinners.
07:50 PM on 07/14/2012
Or maybe the protesters outside could start devoting some of their ample time and energy to injustices against their *own* species.
07:51 PM on 07/14/2012
I hate fucking ducks.
07:52 PM on 07/14/2012
What about daffi?
07:53 PM on 07/14/2012
I love betty white.
07:53 PM on 07/14/2012
I would do blanche before her
07:54 PM on 07/14/2012
Bee Auther rocks my world
07:55 PM on 07/14/2012
As expected, a severe case of witplegia (the utter inability to create for oneself anything witty, often leading to an obsessive clinging to what used to be hip). Check the newspaper in the morning, it's not 1997 any more.
That's a rather sad and long-winded sad excuse for you being completely oblivious...
08:01 PM on 07/14/2012
It's been proven that those who abuse animals, later in life do the same thing to people. I think this is a Good place to start. I believe in the rule of law
No one is making you go there to eat, but you have no right to tell someone else they can't!
08:03 PM on 07/14/2012
Eat me...stooped people
08:04 PM on 07/14/2012
America's black market always fuels the real market, we just too scared to say it.
08:06 PM on 07/14/2012
When outlaws have foie gras...too funny
08:08 PM on 07/14/2012
I'd kick the shit out of the first guys like this. San Francisco idiots.
08:09 PM on 07/14/2012
Hooray, let the brutal torture commence! GOD I hate rooting for PETA, they're the worst BUT if they're not gonna fight, who will?
08:12 PM on 07/14/2012
Foie Gras is NOT torture.... http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-02-18/news/is-foie-gras-torture/
08:19 PM on 07/14/2012
My recommendation for anybody being swayed by the yum factor is to watch a video of the geese being force fed. It doesn't matter how good it tastes, it isn't worth that level of suffering.
08:22 PM on 07/14/2012
I won't oppose that idea if their livers taste as good as those of the geese.
There are humane ways to produce this without the way you mentioned.. but you if you did research, you would know that... Chef Ludo gets all his foie from a humanely produced farm, a lot of top notch chefs do, its the ones who dont that give it a bad name
08:31 PM on 07/14/2012
I did my research when my city (known for its love of good food) banned foie gras. I was outraged - and then I realized it was a matter of ethics and animals. Better to ban all of it than try and guess who gets liver from happy geese vs maltreated ones. A chef can tell you his ingredients come from anywhere. How many times have the little secrets of famous kitchens been revealed - much to the public's disgust...
08:33 PM on 07/14/2012
Did more research about HUMANE foie gras and found little I hadn't seen before. The concept is in minimal use. It is so easy to sit in a restaurant steeped in our over-privileged surroundings and lives and hope that reality doesn't intrude too much on our refined palates. Believe me, I don't want food police ruining my feasts but... it isn't right to look the other way when it comes to how animals are treated.
You are a jerk Mr. Tang. Your actions lend support to a cruel and inhumane process that is unconscionable to reasonable people. Even if you are exploiting a legal loophole, you are still undermining the spirit of the law.
08:35 PM on 07/14/2012
Despite the fact that ducks and geese have no gag reflex? Despite the fact that they've got throats designed to swallow live fish whole? How does anyone know force feeding is painful to them? Why do we single out fois gras when the entire meat industry is filled with blatant examples of animal cruelty? Seems to me they're just going after the low hanging fruit.
08:36 PM on 07/14/2012
PETA are a bunch of maniacal tree hugging vegans who have nothing better to do than bother people who actually enjoy eating animals - using our teeth for what they are meant for. Maybe they should go out and put a ban on carnivores in the wild - they tend to eat their pray while still alive...cruel? I could see it now... "PETA commits genocide against i dunno lions to save Zebras!!" LoL
08:39 PM on 07/14/2012
Let PETA set up shop in China and see how fast they wind up in a Chinese prison.What right does a small group of people have to dictate to the majority? That is how a democracy works. Don't these people realize that without meat many would starve for lack of enough vegetables to feed everyone.Do they want us to eat each other? I think we should start a People for the Ethical Decency of All Lives (PEDAL)
08:40 PM on 07/14/2012
Is it bad when you bite into your kung paw beef and it barks?
08:41 PM on 07/14/2012
The biggest hurdle that PETA has to overcome is the actions of people who support PETA. I don't like foei gras, just based on the taste and texture, but I don't like pushy organizations who try and guilt me into changing my behavior. So for that reason, I suppose the Presidio Social Club. Not because it's the right thing to do, but because it p|sses off obnoxious people.
I am grateful to this restaurant and to others who are merely defying the law. When we elect stupid people we get stupid laws.
08:44 PM on 07/14/2012
If you understand how normal foie gras is produced and still believe it should be available you are unambiguously declaring that you do not care at all about unnecessary cruelty to animals.
I would wish that people like you would be treated like these animals are but I have ethics.
08:45 PM on 07/14/2012
I have a full understanding of how it is produced; I have even visited Hudson Valley Farm. I do care about unnecessary cruelty to animals. I think we should outlaw grain and corn fed beef and mandate grass fed. I think we should make all chicken free range and antibiotic free, HOWEVER ducks have NO gag reflex. The force feeding is merely taking advantage of a natural cycle of a duck's life. To outlaw one food that is in fact not cruel while allowing the truly cruel practice to continue is 'feel good' for people who truly do not understand how foie gras is produced.
08:46 PM on 07/14/2012
Instead of trying to institute a ban why not try to promote ethical Foie Gras? Laws such as this never really work.
08:47 PM on 07/14/2012
Oh I know, Tyson foods doesn't do geese. BTW, if you don't think your $.99/lb chicken (or mick nuggets) wasn't fed arsenic, you need to do some research. Arsenic cause swelling of the meat...instant profit. Arsenic is also considered a "Natural" ingredient thanks to our lawmakers.
08:48 PM on 07/14/2012
McDonald's is behind this. Follow the money.
08:50 PM on 07/14/2012
Already a thriving industry springing up on the Nevada border in Tahoe for people to buy their own foie gras and walk it back into California.
Congratulations, folks. You just made Incline Village, Reno, and Stateline richer and didn't change a thing, especially for Californians living near the border.
08:52 PM on 07/14/2012
wow...doesn't CA have better things to worry about?
08:53 PM on 07/14/2012
We do, but the legislature doesn't seem to think budgetary concerns are much of a problem.
This all happened before the budget problems. And a few years back BEFORE the recession ca. voters said yes to more humane raising of birds for food, the cages have to be a certain size so they can walk around an spread their wings, no cramped battery cages...........and guess what you can still buy chicken at markets in Calif. The world did not end, as the corp ag/RWNM would have you believe.
08:56 PM on 07/14/2012
I am of french origin and love foie gras. I am against the law. However I am more disturbed with the "federal land" does not have to comply with california law aspect of this.
09:01 PM on 07/14/2012
Native American tribal land doesn't have to conform (too much) with local law. That's why in CA their are Casinos on tribal land even though California, I think, still has a ban on casinos.
09:03 PM on 07/14/2012
Freedom from government oppression has to be won. We will not allow PETA to dictate what we, the People, can and cannot eat! Kudos to the chefs!
09:05 PM on 07/14/2012
This has happened in London already.
It is not banned in the UK but the store Selfridges made a big show of banning it some years ago.
However if you asked the butcher for "French fillet" he would serve you foie gras under the counter.
09:07 PM on 07/14/2012
And why Foie Gras? Because it is a luxury item and hey let's stick it to those who can afford it? A slippery slope to begin traveling down.
09:09 PM on 07/14/2012
This ban shows a simple lack of understanding of basic economics. Foie gras won't go away. If it is banned in California, it will simply be sold somewhere else.
09:09 PM on 07/14/2012
You write: "Force feeding seems unnatural and unkind."
I wonder on what evidence you base your conclusion that force feeding is unkind, or that the birds become uncomfortable.
09:11 PM on 07/14/2012
Too often the animal welfare/rights response to gavage is, "How would you feel if it was done to you?" Well, the major problem with that argument is that it's anthropomorphizing. You can't take an animal experience and apply it to humans, just like you can't take a human experience and apply it to animals.
09:11 PM on 07/14/2012
We as humans should be able to make our own choices, as long as we are not hurting others- that's what freedom is all about. On the flip side, animals don't have a voice, so we need a certain amount of laws in place to protect them. I guess the question comes down to, how cruel is force-feeding geese? Some say it is, some say it's nonsense.
09:11 PM on 07/14/2012
Errr...exactly how is gavage cruel? What scientific literature exists on the subject doesn't uphold the argument put forth by the animal rights groups. Touring Hudson Valley Foie Gras or Sonoma's Artisan Foie Gras doesn't show birds who are being fed against their will. The geese and ducks happily gather around the gavage tube when it comes out. And they go back for more.
Certainly, if a human being had a tube shoved down their throat with food crammed in it would be uncomfortable. But geese and ducks aren't human. They don't have human anatomy. They don't have a gag reflex. Their gullets are actually designed to distend for crammed feeding, which they'll do in the wild prior to migration.
They don't even use similar hormones in the same way. Where corticosterone is a weak glucocorticoid (steroid used to help signal and regulate glucose metabolism) in humans, in avians it's a strong glucocorticoid. So strong that the same levels of CORT are found before and after feeding. With or without gavage. It has even been observed that CORT levels spike when the birds see the tube. Meaning they are responding positively to the tube. They're getting hungry just seeing the gavage apparatus
09:13 PM on 07/14/2012
I'm so interested in this debate. I've eaten Foie and I enjoy it but not regularly. I understand from the stand point of both sides. The real question for me is on the level of personal choice. I've seen hundreds of videos as to how animals are raised humanely and inhumanely because I choose to eat meat, this is something that I thought was important to know. I've also had years in my life when I chose not to eat meat or eat animal products. I believe that our choice has to do with our level of consciousness. It's up to consumers to understand their responsibility and choose themselves. Personally I think people have to know and take responsibility for what they eat and the outcome of those choices and that government doesn't necessarily have to take control of these measures because if the demand for Foie Gras wasn't there these businesses wouldn't be around.