Foie Gras: Oh ya!

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How can something this delectable be so wrong? Well, to some it is wrong and to some it is all right (note: not alright). The Uncouth Gourmands always put our tummies first but we do acknowledge the line between scrumptious delicacy and duck force feeding until livers expand to 10x their size for the sake of that food.

When we arrived at Vroman’s to see Mark Caro, author of Foie Gras Wars, we weren’t sure if we were in the right place becasue the first woman we saw was clearly an animal rights activist. We were a little nervous when we saw how warmly she received the author, she even invited him to a hoedown at her farm. At the point I had sent Josie a text message that read, “He already had a groupie offer him a hoe down.” We laughed and waited for the discussion to begin. We didn’t know anything of the author prior and after this encounter we figured he was probably very anti-foie gras. When he finally began speaking he started by explaining the issue at the most basic level. People like ducks, they are seen in cartoons and in most city ponds, and duck jokes are some of the smartest. There is no negative connotation with the word, as Mark pointed out, like with cow, pig, or chicken. You think of a lucky duck or water off a ducks back but neither is bad in the slightest. Plus duck is not a common food except among the wealthy, so there are not as many mixed emotions if you didn’t grow up eating it. He then went into the more complex issues like where everyone draws their own line, the small farms, the treatment of the ducks, the so-called disease, the silly Chicago ban, the underground foie gras restaurants that popped up in Chicago at that time. What an interesting time in American Food history and Mark Caro, a reporter (mostly Entertainment) at the Chicago Tribune, was the catalyst for this whole thing.

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Our favorite thing about Mark and his book is that you will all be able to draw your own conclusions from the nonbias facts he lays out. As he pointed out a writer in Chicago said that this book made him stop eating foie gras and yet Salon said it was the best justifaction for eating it. Even in the small reception at the bookstore I noticed the exact same thing. The UG ladies were nodding along with the animal activist and we were both interpreting his words entirely differently. That is a mark (pun always intended) of a true reporter. When he opened the floor for questions, of course, the first question asked was, do you eat it now? He said on occasion, I nodded happily and the activists gasped. He said he doesn’t eat veal or pork and rarely red meat and tries to eat organic, free range, and cage free poultry but it is difficult to be consistent.

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We were thoroughly impressed and sure this rollercoaster of books (coined by Josie) would leave each reader with a very different conclusion and we liked that. Personally we tend to side with Bourdain on the issue. Okay, I will admit it, we just want to be like him in every respect but foie gras is mighty delicious and I hope the foie gras ban that is supposed to come into play in 2012 in California is repealed.

Oh and buy the book. Mark’s newspaper employer is one of many going under so help a thoughtful eater out.

So what did we do after this discussion? We had a hankering for poultry and headed to a chicken institution in Los Angeles, Zankou. We were also celebrating our highest number of daily blog hits. Josie introduced me to the Tarna and I don’t think I will ever go back to the simple chicken plate after that.

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St Patty’s Day

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Hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable St. Patty’s Day. The UG ladies spent the evening doing our civic duty and questioned a candidate exploring a gubernatorial run in California. Okay, and there is the fact that one of Carina’s goals in life is to marry a politician and this one happens to be la creme de la creme in the looks and intelligence department. We headed to Santa Monica High to see Gavin Newsom (current Mayor of SF) in a Town Hall meeting, because of traffic we got there just in the nick of time. As UGs we finagled our way to the front and made sure we were in the Mayor’s eye-line. We were and were surprised by the wrinkles in his suit, not good for a “metrosexual” as Seacrest called him this morning, “Hi pot, meet kettle”.

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It was an interesting night and we liked hearing more about the Alice Waters garden that was mentioned on 60 Minutes last week and marriage equality. Oh, want to hear something ironic? Gavin was introduced by Santa Monica City Councilman, Bobby Shriver, who is the brother in law of the current Governator. Unfortunately, we were not chosen to ask a question, as Josie said, “Liza Minnelli beat us to it”. However, our question would have been, “As two young budding entrepreneurs in California, that our discouraged about raising capital for our company, Uncouth Gourmands, what advice or help could you offer?”

I am a regular at political events so as soon as it was over I grabbed Josie and had her follow me so we could quickly get a picture. It was a little more chaotic then most, as everyone was busy sharing their ideas for the homeless, asking about rent control, and other important issues. We just wanted a picture. Josie smartly said, “Pinch him, he isn’t wearing green”. He heard it and laughed, and grabbed my arm but wasn’t quite ready to turn around. After about ten minutes Josie said, “Less butt time, more face time”. I wasn’t complaining. When he finally turned around I said, “Take a picture with the young entrepreneurs of California” he did and we were glad. We left right afterwards, grabbed carrots and water and walked to the parking garage. Josie fell off the sidewalk and when the guys behind us asked her if she was okay she said, “Yes, I just haven’t hadn’t had a drink yet and my body is in shock because it knows this is a holiday”.

We headed to Los Feliz to stop by Tam O’Shatner’s which was packed. There was a tent event with live music, drinks, and food. It was a little overwhelming and we left after a picture with the man in the kilt outside.

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We walked to Big Foot Lodge and as we were walking in a little person who was intoxicated was walking out. Josie was telling a friend about it later and said, “We just saw a leprechaun”. When he corrected her using the politically correct LP term she said, “It is St. Patty’s Day, it’s a leprechaun.” We also saw a man in green passed out in front of a tree in front of Del Taco and said, “Drive home, you’re too drunk to walk”.

It was a silly night and we ended up at the Griffin. They were running out of beer and they closed their kitchen at 10 and Carina was not happy. I tried to go to Tam O’Shatner’s to grab corned beef and cabbage to go but they only were taking cash and it was $16 (when I had $8 in cash) and then I had to figure out how to sneak it back into the Griffin. I gave up, we called it an early night.

Not a total wild night but it was fun. It definitely doesn’t top Josie stealing the taxi last year.