A Celebration of Foie Gras; Keeping the traditions Alive and Well
February 11, 2014
Famed chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon have become emblems of French cuisine around the globe. They are enormous brands that stand for the best of French food. Their presence is seen across the foodie spectrum, from ready-to-heat-and-eat prepared meals available at supermarkets to decadent eateries from Vegas to Tokyo.
The true backbone of French culinary diversity, however, is the group of men and women who maintain the spectacular quality of the country’s produce. These folks of the land raise a multitude of varieties of livestock, fruit and vegetables – they alone have maintained the traditions of the past. While many countries are striving to save seed and livestock varieties that have almost been lost, the French farmers have safe-guarded these national treasures, and so France has maintained enormous biodiversity.
This year marks the third that the Lions Club of Fontvieille en Provence— a region best known for its olive oil and chevre cheese—has invited produces from Gers to come and share their products in a celebration of fat known as the Foire Gourmande au Gras. This Fat Fair, if you will, is set up in the central open-air pavilion in the heart of this quaint town.
The Foire is an excellent opportunity for locals of Fontvieille to sample goods from producers as far away as Toulouse. Gers is situated in the southeast of France, not too far above the Spanish boarder and nearer the Atlantic than the Mediterranean. It is a land of foie gras, oysters and truffles, goose and countless other varieties of poultry.
In Fontvieille, locals and visitors alike taste the delights from Gers; the samples served by the hands that made them. Little bites of foie gras, duck sausage, tomme de brebis (sheep) are everywhere, alongside local wines. Shopping baskets fill up with delights that will enhance the many feasts to come in the next few weeks of the holiday season.
A group of women from Gers have prepared a typical Geroise meal of confit de canard and beans cooked in duck fat. Never before has a meal served on a plastic plate tasted so decadent—it’s a magically delicious way to find warmth on a cold and damp winter day.
The word “fat” has become one of the most hated words in the English language, but here at the Foire Gourmand au Gras fat is celebrated, reveled in and elevated to gourmet superstar. It’s a good reminder that traditions have enormous value; they are what define localized cultures too often obliterated by mass-market forces. In these winter months, surely a little fat to tide us over as we hibernate until the days get longer and the fields greener cannot be such a bad thing.