Foie gras (pronounced /fwɑːˈɡrɑː/ in English; French for “fat liver”) is a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. This fattening is typically achieved through gavage (force-feeding) corn, according to French law, though outside of France it is occasionally produced using natural feeding. Pâté de foie gras was formerly known as “Strasbourg pie” in English due to that city being a major producer of this food product.
Foie gras is a popular and well-known delicacy in French cuisine. Its flavor is described as rich, buttery, and delicate, unlike that of a regular duck or goose liver. Foie gras is sold whole, or is prepared into mousse, parfait, or pâté (the lowest quality), and may also be served as an accompaniment to another food item, such as steak. French law states that “Foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France.” Another European cuisine employs fattened goose liver almost to the extent as in France; in Hungary, libamáj (lit. ‘goose liver’) is produced, as in France, both at the small farm and larger commercial levels, and is consumed both plain and in cooking by all levels of society. As with French foie gras, tinned libamáj is exported and can be purchased around Europe and North America.
The technique of gavage dates as far back as 2500 BC, when the ancient Egyptians began keeping birds for food and deliberately fattened the birds through force-feeding.Today, France is by far the largest producer and consumer of foie gras, though it is produced and consumed worldwide, particularly in other European nations, the United States, and the People’s Republic of China
Gavage-based foie gras production is controversial due to the force feeding procedure used. A number of countries and other jurisdictions have laws against force feeding or the sale of foie gras.