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Chicago Council Yanks Foie Gras Off Restaurant Menus


The Illinois Restaurant Association has filed suit to keep something that's BAD for you on the menu in Chicago. It's foie gras.

Foie gras is French for "fatty liver" -- really fatty duck or goose liver. The Chicago City Council banned it, not because it has perhaps the highest cholesterol count of any food on earth, but because of the cruel way in which foie gras is produced. To create this mushy meat paste, grain is force-fed down the gullets of restrained birds, over and over again until their livers swell to ten times normal size.

"This isn't telling people what to eat," said Chicago alderman Joe Moore, who sponsored the ordinance banning foie gras. "It's a statement against cruelty to animals."

Foie gras is served by itself on crackers, as a pâté, or used as a garnish in really expensive dishes. So in addition to being a profitable item on restaurant menus, foie gras is something of a status symbol.

"If we let them take our foie gras, what's next?" howl Chicago's chefs and restaurant owners. "Lobsters? Truffles? Cavier? Oysters?"

These days in Chicago, people are calling foie gras an "outlaw ingredient." Some restaurateurs are openly talking about staging secret dinners at which the fatty fowl liver is served, the way people used to drink outlawed alcohol in "speakeasy" hideaways in the 1920s during what was called Prohibition. And some Chicago restaurants have already figured out how to get around the ban on foie gras. They SERVE IT FOR FREE -- then boost the price of everything else on the order.

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