Tuesday, 21 December 2010

This Christmas: Living with Your Liver and The Liver of Others...

It just wouldn't be Christmas in France without foie gras. While many find it ethically questionable, others merely cannot live without the delicious treat you can (legitimately) eat until you are sick in this country. Having lived in France for such a long time, I too should be over the moon to have access to such a divine food. However, until recently, foie gras has been the bane of my existence. My father's partner's family are exceedingly French. Foie gras and raw oysters are expected during the holidays. I myself am more of a turkey and mashed potatoes kind of girl and nearly cried the one year we had a four course Christmas dinner with five different forms of foie gras.

That being said, I've become a little more French than my father can stand sometimes. When I sit there eating a carrot and celery salad (made up of diced raw vegetables and a little bit of lemon juice) or think that the only real starters for a meal are scallops or foie gras, he gives me a strange look and remarks on the fact that I am starting to eat more and more like a French person. Case in point, tonight we had rabbit (apparently, I've eaten rabbit in the guise of chicken many a time, so this was the first time I knowingly ate it, a thought which formerly might have filled me with dread actually made me curious to finally figure out the difference in taste). It was in fact, rather delicious.

So I'm probably not going to eat raw oysters anytime soon (especially since they are alive and you can make them move). But horse, or frogs legs? Why not? You try these things. You learn what to expect. After awhile it's not so bad, and all of a sudden it's really good. Such has been my experience with foie gras. As I wrote a few entries back, the boy and I were served a complimentary course of it at our anniversary dinner. Since neither one of us normally would order it, we sat there thinking 'oh, **#! we have to eat this somehow since the kitchen sent it out just for us and we can't send it back unless our plates are empty.' Thankfully, it was so beautifully prepared that even the most virgin foie gras eater would enjoy it. We had no problem eating it, and as it stands, it was one of the highlights of the meal (that, and the wine that went with it).

My point is that after years of eating foie gras out of fear of offending the host who was serving it (or for that matter the family who finds it de rigeur to eat it) I've actually come to appreciate it. It's not my favourite, and I probably still wouldn't order it with dinner (except for Gleneagles maybe!) but I've come to respect the tradition it holds here. So this Christmas, have a little foi(e)!*

Where some countries might use the space for turkeys, the French use it for foie gras...

Seriously, where else can you find plastic plates for raw oysters?

Almost like little Christmas gifts, if only for your tastebuds (toxins from fattened liver? my favourite!)

*French pun, foi means faith, while foie means liver.

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