On Friday, just before the long Labor Day weekend, a federal appellate court upheld the state’s ban on foie gras, a delicacy made from the fattened livers of force-fed ducks.
Which saddens and frustrates one local restaurateur. Chef Antoine Price of Café Mimosa has been an outspoken critic of the ban, even as going as far as serving a seven- course, all-foie gras-based meal the day after it became law. He called the event, “Foie You!”
The next day, four sheriff’s deputies showed up in front of the restaurant. Price suspects it was an intimidation move on the part of an animal rights group.
“I came up to them and said, ‘What are you going to do, raid my refrigerator?’” he told Patch. “They didn’t come into the restaurant. It was so awkward and weird.”
Price lives above his restaurant, so for the loyal customers of foie gras, he invites them upstairs for a private tasting as his guests. It’s all he can do, short of hunting the ducks himself right before migratory season, when ducks fatten themselves up all on their own for the journey.
“People ask [for it] all the time,” he said.
The court's 27-page opinion details the process by which foie gras is produced by inserting a tube in ducks' throats after weeks of fattening. California’s measure prohibits force-feeding ducks or geese to make foie gras within the state and bars sales of foie gras produced elsewhere if it's made by force-feeding a bird to enlarge its liver beyond normal size.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday rejected arguments that the ban interferes with interstate and foreign commerce and is too vague.
An association of producers who supply Canada's foie gras imports to the United States and Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the largest domestic producer, sued in Los Angeles to overturn the 2004 law.
The plaintiffs appealed to the circuit court after U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson denied an argument that the law is unconstitutional because it regulates the feeding of ducks outside California.
“Now everyone just goes to Vegas and eats foie gras over there,” Price said.
The chef, who at one point stayed on top of every detail of the controversy, which he says is "crap,", has been sidetracked by his own engagement. Will he serve foie gras at his upcoming wedding?
"Yes, I will," Price said.
-- City News Service contributed to this report.