Foie Gras Ban Passes in Chicago

This isn’t exactly pastry news, but as a former resident of that great city, I have to say I’m more than a little disappointed. Even in California, where this little legislative fad started, the ban won’t go into effect until 2012. The Chicago ban starts this June. This is the hog butcher for the world?

The whole thing started as a spat between two of Chicago’s great food egos: Charlie Trotter (of Charlie Trotter’s) and Rick Tramonto of Tru in Streeterville. Late last year, around the time the issue was getting so much press in California, Trotter announced with great fanfare that he was taking goose and duck liver off his menu. Tramonto called him a hypocrite, since Trotter’s restaurant serves a variety of meats, some produced under questionably humane conditions. Trotter responded by suggesting that Tramonto be forcefed raw corn until his liver were plump enough to serve on toast.

The tit-for-tat was good for more than a few laughs. That is, until the exchange drew the attention of an ambitious city alderman by the name of Joe Moore, who perceived an opportunity to score some easy points with his progressive North Side constituency. And thus a ban was born. Members of the Illinois General Assembly, themselves no slouches at pandering, went on to propose an equally brave ban of the production of foie gras in the state (number of registered foie gras producers in the State of Illinois: 0).

The ban doesn’t effect me much. As a current resident of Kentucky, I’m sure I’m free to shoot and eat the liver of any goose that comes within a few hundred yards of me, forcefed or otherwise. Yet the thought that my favorite Chicago dining spots won’t have a goose liver terrine on the menu the next time I visit depresses me. Chicago is a meat packing town!

But then my favorite place to eat foie gras isn’t in Chicago. It’s just outside town in a village called Lockport. Here’s hoping they show more pride in their Midwestern meat-packing (and eating) roots.

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