I had lunch at Aquavit again, this time with Jim Schiltz, who raises and/or processes pretty much all American goose, his publicist, Howard Helmer, and Nick Fauchald, the young food editor of Every Day with Rachel Ray.
Normally, Jim's geese are, oh, let’s say harvested, when they're about 17 weeks old. But for the early hatchers, it’s not worth the trouble and expense to turn on the processing equipment, so he let's them get a little older.
Well, he’s found that at 22 or 23 weeks, the geese’s livers start to get really fatty. They’re not as fatty as foie gras, but they do have similar delicious, unctuous qualities. So he’s hoping to sell them to restaurant operators who object, or whose customers object, to the force-feeding of ducks to make foie gras.
Personally, I have no qualms about the way foie gras is produced. Although I’ve never visited a foie gras facility myself, people I respect, and everyone I know in the waterfowl industry, even those who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to force-feed their birds to produce expensive and delicious livers, say that the treatment of foie gras ducks (all American foie gras is duck) is no worse than any other animal raised by mainstream American techniques and that, after the first few times the feeding tube is stuck down their throats, the ducks come to realize that the tube means they’re being fed, and they don’t have a problem with it.
But some people object, and foie gras produced through force-feeding will be illegal in California come 2012, so there should be a market demand that Jim’s fatty goose liver could fill.
It should be interesting to see what happens. I also wonder what he’ll call the stuff, because"fatty goose liver" isn’t going to sell.