Saturday, June 30, 2007

Perrier on Duck

A terrific and troubling interview with a truly great chef and Philadelphia restaurateur Georges Perrier who has been the frequent target of animal rights protesters who, want him to stop serving foie gra.

The following is excerpted from the interview wherein GP (Georges Perrier) asks TB (The Evening Bulletin) when will the hunger of the the animal rights protesters be sated.

GP: Here's the problem: Today it is foie gras, but tomorrow it can be something else.
TB: It opens the door to ban more things ... like Whole Foods banning lobsters and crabs because it's "inhumane" - whatever that means.
GP: Where does it end? Everything can be called "cruelty." Where does it end?

A Hunger Artist butts in: Chef, this is exactly the point. It will never end for the most active people in the campaign against the production of foie gras because their goal is the elimination of animal suffering by human activity. So this is going to be a long fight. Once they stop the production and sale of foie gras, they will target some other farmed animal product. Of course they will go after "factory farmed" products first. But soon they will target "cruelty free products" because many of them believe that no matter how well you treat an animal while you are raising it, the very act of killing is cruel and unnecessary, while others believe that all animals should be left to live their lives unimpeded by human interference.

Once all the farmed animal products are eliminated then they will go after wild animal products. By this point veganism will have become part of the primary cultural gestalt and so will be a driving force behind the inspiration and codification of all manner of legislation.

Hunting, fishing and animal farms will be illegal. Books and movies that glorify or romanticize hunting and animal farming will be the targets of boycotts, censorship and in extreme cases where animal suffering is truly horrendous -such Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea- banned outright.

Drug testing on animals who aren't sick? Fahgedaboutit.

Pet cats will be illegal because they maim and kill and anyone who owns one will be prosecuted for promoting unnecessary suffering of wild animals by proxy. Or at the very least, there will be a law that requires all house cats to be declawed and fed a cruelty free vegan diet or a diet supplemented by animal products derived from the corpses of animals that died from natural causes.

Pet dogs too will be doggone and the term dog bone will have a completely different meaning.

Uhm...what did I forget? Mandatory health insurance legislation for pets, fine and minimum sentencing guidelines for pet owners who neglect to take their pets for regular check ups? Human stool test kits for vigilant parents who want to screen their kids for illicit meat consumption?

In the end, it doesn't end chef. Not if you give free reign to your imagination and recognize that the animal rights folks who are giving you such a hard time about duck liver are really trying to reconfigure the food web to conform to they way they think it should be. It'll be interesting to see how it really shakes out.

The Evening Bulletin - No Sitting Duck


CarolinaGirl said...

Arrrgh! If I needed someone to save my soul I seriously doubt I'd meet them at a PETA meeting. How bout let's end human suffering first then once there is complete world peace, we can examine my diet.For me, I say mind your own damn business and keep your opinions and fingers off my plate. If I need to nurture my conscience, I'll feed a starving person oh yeah saving the animals is first concern versus the millions of hungry or malnourished people roaming the earth! Don't let me go much farther, I put lots of lemon in the tea today.
If this double posts, the window popped back up.Sorry.

Charlotte said...

I live in Montana and my sweetheart makes most of his living as a hunting and fishing guide. When I went back to California for work shortly after we started dating, you'd have thought I was dating a pedophile from some of the reactions I got. What's the projection, that something like 75% of the worlds population will be urban dwellers in the next 50 years? As more and more people have their lives severed from any true sense of the organic, from any contact with animals who are not pets, and from the practice of agriculture, we're going to see more and more of this kind of nonsense. In the meantime, I'll be happily eating antelope and elk and wild mushrooms ...

The Foodist said...

This is exactly the point. One that Ive been trying to point out to some people Ive been talking about this subject to.

They did a decent job of hurting Veal consumption when they went after that, as well as helping to clean up Chicken farming as a whole, but neither of which were they able to compleatly erradicate. Why? the majority LIKE this stuff!

Youll never be able to get rid of the stuff that the majority like, hence why theyre so successful with the Foie debate. You ask any random person on the street what Foie Gras is and they look at you cross eyed like your speaking Latin.

Its that ignorance about the product that allows them to be successful in this "food witch hunt".

You make a good point, though strangly Orson Wells-ish, about the future of debating "animal cruelty". They have the potential to make eating meat a huge pain in the arss.

Lets just hope it doesnt get that far.

Sorcha said...

Um, Bob, you may want to change "zoophiliac" to something else. It's the technical term for loving animals in the bad-touch way.

That aside, PeTA's agenda really is to end all consumption of animal flesh as well as all testing on animals, even medical testing that can save lives. There's also a strong faction that calls pet-owning "animal slavery." Seriously, they're crazy, man.

I don't even like foie all that much, but I'll be damned if I'll let PeTA tell me what I can't eat.

Bob del Grosso said...

I knew what it meant but thanks to your comment and a bit of reflection decided to change it. It was a bit harsh and off point. Thanks.
(I wonder what how Bourdain would have handled that? Hm...)

fiat lux said...

Excellent points, Bob, and you are spot-on that the foie kerfluffle is just the first step.

One small correction, if I may, since you're not a cat person and wouldn't necessarily know this -- the law would be to ban pet declawing entirely, not to enforce it. In fact, in a few places, it's already illegal, and with good reason. Nearly all people in the "cat community" see declawing as cruel and inhumane. Even the meat eaters.

Sorcha said...

Bourdain would've been less tactful, I'm sure. ;) (I actually am surprised that he has yet to make a "Cleveland Steamer" joke in Ruhlman's blog.) I wasn't sure if you knew that the word was more commonly used in the sexual context, since you strike me as a gentleman. On the other hand, you're also a chef. *G*

And yeah, Fiat, I for one won't declaw, even though my current cat is completely indoor. We've been really lucky with her, as she rarely scratches anywhere but on her scratch pad. Of course, that might be due to the copious amounts of catnip in it. ;)

Deborah Dowd said...

The majority of people, ven among food bloggers probably only eat foie gras once or twice in a lifetime, but this campaign reminds me of that famous poem about Hitler about "when they came for the Catholics, I didn't act because I wasn't Catholic...(rough paraphrase). While I am a proponent (and consumer) of humanely grown animals, I am not a fan of anything or anyone who wants to tell me what I should or shouldn't eat, and am really concerned that we quickly will find ourselves on a slippery slope! (descend soapbox!)

Bob del Grosso said...

If I could have phrased the problem better than I did, I'd have written something closer to what you wrote.

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Anonymous said...

I'm writing from t'other side of the pond in good old England where one of the UK's best and biggest department store chains House of Fraser has recently announced it is going to stop selling foie gras pate on ethical grounds. You might find this article from the UK Independent interesting.