Thursday, December 24, 2009

It does not get any fresher than this !

This post might be a bit pictures heavy but those are the real thing.

I remember in my early years as a young cook ( noticed I did not say Chef ? ) the foie gras markets of that time and they have not changed much except that they are now better regulated and the sanitary conditions are excellent whereas before it was rather basic and a bit primitive. All products now are inspected and displayed in a refrigerated hall.

The doors are locked and the only people in the room are the sellers and whatever authority is in charge of the gig. Everybody else, mostly potential buyers and some tourists are standing outside the locked doors until it is the official time to open which is announced by a loud whistle blow. People start to rush in like the mad shopping crowds the day after Thanksgiving. I just follow and get in the atmosphere, I like this and know that some day I will be back and be one of the buyers.

By the way it is only cash or check here and as you can see no fancy packaging either as it is all about the foie !
I am surprised at the look and size of the foies on display. First they are mostly all duck with a few goose livers. The duck livers are of various sizes anywhere from 10 ounces to 1.25 pound and up.Their color is more of a fleshy white/pink than the light beige color we are familiar with. I do not know what it means and do not dare ask as the sellers are in no mood to play twenty questions with some tourist who sports the local accent. I would think that they might be feeding the ducks with white corn instead of the other yellow kind we see everywhere. There are however a few livers of the beige color and the ducks which produced them were for sure fed yellow corn.
I am however stunned by the freshness of the product as yesterday was the birds last day in this world. This is way above fresh if there is such a thing. We American Chefs are not used to see this level of freshness on foie gras as everything in the states is stored before it travels. I spend a lot of time there taking about a hundred pictures of different scenes and foie gras of all sizes and color. Some are moving faster than others but it is a serious business. Don’t let the convivial atmosphere fool you, this is business first, small talk when it is all gone and not before. The price ? 30 $ a pound for duck foie gras and 38 $ a pound for goose foie gras. Not cheap ! but the quality seems there and it is the holiday season when demand peaks .

In France most households will celebrate with foie gras for their holiday dinner. I do not buy here as I find the price a bit stiff. I will take my chances closer to home and hope to find a better deal. I am however thrilled to have come and the learning part of this trip is huge for me even though this is real close to home. Yes, you heard me : learning is the word and I am loving it. Just hope I am able to convey this experience to you the readers and that someday you will be able to visit this country side of France and who knows, I could be your guide/driver. I sure will come back with or without you as I see a lots of foie gras terrines and confits in my future.

Here is a tip for you foie gras lovers:
For your hot foie gras preparations the freshest foie must be used as it will melt much less. This means as close to harvest as you can get it !
Join me on my next post as I'll get to talk about the trip back home and the porto laced terrine I enjoyed with my family.
Chef Andre

1 comment:

  1. Andre -- I am a bit behind on my reading but caught up today on your blog. What wonderful experiences you had on your trip! It sounds like you had a great time. I look forward to seeing you soon (perhaps tomorrow at the TCA meeting), and wish you a prosperous and healthy year ahead! -- Best wishes, Dawn