Tradition tells us that back in the 27th century BC, Imhoptet, chancellor to the Pharaoh Djoser, designed the first pyramid in Egypt. He also noted how geese, before migrating north from the Nile Delta, gorged themselves, and that their fatty livers or foies gras were exceptionally tasty, rich and buttery—and nothing like the normal liver of the goose.
The ancient Egyptians began the practice of force feeding their fowls. The Romans also force fed geese, notably with figs, but ever since maize arrived in Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, the French have been stuffing (gaver) ducks and geese with it, especially in the southwest, where corn grows well.
Foie gras stars on all the menus of the ferme auberges in the Dordogne, Lot and surrounding departments, and in gourmet restaurants, although the vast majority of foie gras in France is consumed at Christmas and New Year’s.
Images by Dana Facaros, David.Monniaux on Wikimedia Commons, Marianne Lowe