Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Coup de Foie Gras

*Originally Published in GMANews Online

Pardon my French but I hated foie gras at first bite. That first forkful was akin to biting a slab of lard. The aftertaste, though subtle, was undeniably foul. It was a potent first impression, and one piercing to the ego. I realized that, despite being a foodie, my taste was decidedly pedestrian. But there were always enough good things to eat that I never had to try foie gras again. Until that day.

Like all second comings, it came unexpected. But with a vengeance. I was invited by Sommelier Selection to lunch at Prince Albert Rotisserie to try out their offerings of French wine. I had already quite comfortably settled into a conversation about wines when was I informed that the main ingredient of our meal would be foie gras, and nothing else but. For a moment I considered spitting (discreetly) every mouthful onto a napkin, or pretending to have dietary restrictions, or imbibing enough wine to wash off the unsavory taste.

The duck liver “marbre” with breast and sweet balsamic walnut toast topped with mango chutney was served. I sliced the much-feared delicacy with a knife, picked up a piece with my fork, and slid it into my mouth. I wanted to swallow it whole but an accidental flick of the tongue soaked my palate with a curious taste–rich, velvety, not at all unpleasant. As I let the piece rest between my tongue and palate, all the savory juices flowed freely, and when I finally succumbed to a bite, I discovered the buttery texture, the earthy flavor, the hint of spices. My eyes began to glaze as I followed one bite with another until my plate was clean.

Three more foie gras dishes in increasing complexity of flavors were served. By the time we got to the chocolate volcano dessert, I was so subdued by the meal that I wanted to slide out of my chair and disappear under the table for a nap. I have not tried foie gras again since but I find myself craving for it once in a while, like a tempting thought that comes unbidden.

The worldwide debate on whether to foie gras or not to foie gras (animal rights activists are lobbying for its ban because of the “cruel” process of force-feeding the goose or duck via a tube) only adds to its allure. Before the jury reaches a verdict and we’re all driven to partake of it as contraband, I will perhaps indulge myself with one more delirious mouthful and raise my glass for a toast to all things rich and as yet unforbidden.

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