Foie Gras Ban in California: Human Livers Still Legal

If one is to believe the recent news cycle, Sonoma is obsessed with liver health – not our own but those of geese. Thanks to California’s looming state-wide froie gras ban, goose liver and Sonoma (home of the state’s sole producers) have been the plat du jour of national media.

At issue is the ethical treatment of the waterfowl, who endure a process called “gavage” (French for “force-feeding”) in an effort to fatten their livers, from which froie gras is made. They say one should never witness how sausage is made. It’s like a horror film. It follows then, I’m led to believe, that froie gras is torture porn. But tastes better.

Whenever I think of liver – after dolefully patting my own tortured organ – I think of dear Prometheus, who I consider something of a spiritual cousin. He stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals, then, as is in most Grecian tales of woe, Prometheus was caught and summarily punished in a disproportionately punitive and gruesome manner. He was bound to a rock so that a large eagle could devour his liver.

There are a few things to bear in mind here: a) eagles are very slow eaters; b) the duration of his sentence is eternity; and c) livers regenerate, which means the eagle returns for seconds, thirds and, well, an infinite amount of Promethean foie gras, forever. If there was ever a reason to drink to excess this would be it – you’ve got to make your liver unpalatably cirrhotic enough to turn off the big bird.

A few thousand years later, the Bible got in on the liver scene with this rather opaque admonition: “‘Til a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.” This reads like precisely the kind of gibberish I can imagine some Renaissance-era scribe penning on deadline for King James. It’s from Proverbs 7:23 and no one seems to knoweth what exactly it means.

The proverb is titled “Warning Against the Adulterous Woman,” so we can probably assume it’s a recommendation to avoid these chicks. But that’s pretty much all the bible ever seems to say. I readily admit I’m no scholar. The first and last time I touched a Bible was in court and that hand still burneth. My liver is fine but I fully expect that the preceding 150 words might result in it being smited. Hmm. Throw in torpedo onions and a light beer batter and you might see “smited liver” on some local menus.

This brings to mind the fact that overfeeding tourists is par for the course for our local tourism industry. Likewise, our spas are a popular attraction. Brainstorm: Create a spa that indulges the body, inside and out – to the extreme. Call it “Massage and Gavage” or, if you’re feeling philistine, “Rub and Grub.” Yes, it’s difficult to dine while someone is kneading essential oils into your shoulders … unless you have a tube piping Sonoma’s finest epicuria straight into your stomach.

Said tubes can be routed through the nose or throat and come in three designer colors: slate, coal and slate-coal. As for wine, well, we all know the winery adage “tasting is wasting,” so let’s forgo the pomp of letting tourists pretend they enjoy a wine’s bouquet and mouth-feel and go straight for gut-feel. After the first bottle has been poured through and digested, I’d reckon it would start to feel pretty good. The buzz, that is – not the tube.

It’s ironic that humans with fatty livers are considered ill whereas geese with fatty livers are a mere a hatchet swing from lunch. Were it the other way around and the geese came at us in some kind of Hitchcockian culinary-themed birdemic, we could only hope they’re not up on their Greek mythology. Or at least forget the tube. Then we’d taste great with less filling.