“I eat it. The sentence finally fell between two sighs of exasperation. A stone’s throw from Christmas, tracked down by journalists from France Info, the European Ecology-The Greens candidate Yannick Jadot could not avoid answering the fateful question: do you eat foie gras? But the presidential candidate insisted on making it clear that he only ate artisanal foie gras. Believing that his ban “may have meaning”, Jadot also refused to say if there would be at the Elysee if by chance he was elected next May. “Cocktails, that’s not the point! He exclaimed.
And yet. For two weeks, foie gras has been on everyone’s lips and in all discussions. And not just because Christmas is upon us. Four months away from a presidential election where identity issues hit the headlines, few candidates have avoided the subject.
While the Christmas and New Year celebrations represent 80% of the consumption of foie gras, the election last year of environmental mayors in several large cities in France has revived the controversy. After Strasbourg, Villeurbanne and Grenoble, it was the turn of Lyon, yet considered the capital of French gastronomy, to ban foie gras from its official receptions. The news had gone unnoticed until the mayor, Grégory Doucet, wanted in the monthly Lyon Capital that “his initiative can be followed in restaurants”. If the vegan association PETA (For an ethics in the treatment of animals) applauded this initiative of the town hall, elsewhere it was the outcry!
“Don’t ruin the party! “
“A few days before Christmas, launching a controversy over foie gras, it’s just a blow of” com “, deplores the starred chef Christophe Marguin, who does not fade. Chef of the restaurant Le Président in Lyon and patron of the Toques blancs lyonnaises, which brings together 120 cooks, Marguin believes that foie gras is part of the French gastronomic heritage and that there is no question of dislodging it. “It is a festive dish that requires a lot of care from the breeders and for its preparation. It’s a dish that foreigners envy us all over the world and to be proud of. “
In response to the mayor, in his restaurant on the banks of the Rhône, Marguin decided to offer this year not one, but two dishes of foie gras. The chef is particularly fond of poached foie gras in Bresse poultry broth, he told us.
“Let the Greens eat what they want and let France be France. With his usual scathing style, the candidate Éric Zemmour was one of the first to react, even though he was visiting Armenia. The newly elected Republicans (LR) Valérie Pécresse immediately followed suit. She attacked not only the ban on foie gras, but also several interventions by the new environmental mayors, such as the abandonment of the traditional Christmas tree in Bordeaux as well as their criticisms of the Tour de France and the election of Miss France. “Yes, to be French,” said Valérie Pécresse, “is to have a Christmas tree, it is to eat foie gras, it is to elect Miss France and it’s the Tour de France, because that’s it, the France. “
Last Sunday, 127 parliamentarians launched a cry of alarm in the Sunday newspaper by denouncing a controversy “undermining our heritage, our culture, our identity”. According to the forum, these decisions could undermine an agricultural sector already tested by avian influenza and the closure of restaurants during the health crisis. “To all the elected officials who have banned foie gras or intend to do so,” they write, “we have a message: do not spoil the party! “
If Emmanuel Macron did not intervene on the subject, his Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie, was unambiguous: “We must assume the traditions, there will be foie gras at my table,” he said. said. The question was not put to the socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo (PS). But, in 2006, was she not inducted into the Confrérie du foie gras du Gers?
Elected and originally from the South-West, the great region producing foie gras, the centrist François Bayrou, president of the Modem and supporter of Emmanuel Macron, did not want to be outdone. “France is a country which has distinguished itself by its excellence in this field,” he said on BFM-TV. I am not in favor of removing our skills of excellence. “
Bayrou specifies that he is in favor of respecting animal welfare, but that, according to him, “today’s force-feeding has nothing to do with yesterday’s force-feeding. He is sweet today. It was not previously ”. This is also the opinion of Christophe Marguin, according to whom breeders take greater care of their animals. “They are treated better than before,” he says. They are much higher in the open air, the slaughter is better controlled and the force-feeding is milder than before. Either way, an abused beast wouldn’t make a good foie gras. We know it. “
With 14 associations of chefs, Marguin signed a declaration in defense of this symbol of French haute cuisine. The chefs undertake to put it in the spotlight on their tables, to write to the mayors of the towns where foie gras has been banned from receptions to encourage them to reconsider their decision and to come and visit the farms where force-feeding is practiced.
Today’s force-feeding has nothing to do with yesterday’s force-feeding. He is sweet today.
On the contrary, among animalist activists at PETA, it is believed that cruelty is inherent in the production of foie gras. The association of American origin affirms that “we do not have the right to dispose [des animaux] for our food, our clothing, our scientific experiments and our leisure activities ”. The fruit of this activism, force-feeding has already been banned in a dozen European countries and could soon be banned throughout Europe. Last June, the European Parliament asked the Commission to legislate by 2027 to ban the force-feeding of geese and ducks and all breeding of animals in cages.
With more than 70% of world production, France is the world’s leading producer of foie gras. It is to protect the 3,500 French producers that in 2006 foie gras was recognized as “French cultural and gastronomic heritage”. According to a survey carried out for the Interprofessional Committee of Foie Gras Palmipeds, no more than the politicians, the French are not ready to depart from tradition: 91% consume it and 75% plan to put it on the menu for Christmas or New Year’s Eve. In the list of essential holiday meals, it tops the list, ahead of smoked salmon and the Yule log.
Moreover, since this controversy, rejoices Christophe Marguin, “I have never served so much foie gras”.