Free-range Goose and Duck Foie Gras des Landes
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From Egypt to France

A Short History of Foie Gras

What is Foie Gras?

Foie Gras, pronounced fwa-gra, literally means "Fat Liver" in French. It is the unadulterated, healthy liver of a fully grown goose or duck fattened traditionally by stimulating a genetic trait discovered long ago in certain waterfowl. Wild geese and duck rely on a metabolism activated during migration that enables them to store large quantities of fat in their body and particularly their livers. This energy allows them to fly long distances over barren, inhospitable terrain without needing food.

How did Foie Gras appear?

Once this genetic trait was understood, selected species were raised and bred for goose and duck Foie Gras production.

The Delta of the Nile

Egyptian goose on shard - 2600BC

Archaeological evidence proves that Egyptians raised geese and duck for Foie Gras in the second millenium before our times. They certainly knew about the transformation of the livers long before then. Pharaons, nobles, land-owners, hunted geese and duck when waterfowl retreated to moult and feed in the delta of the Nile. This tradition survives today. It is possible that divinatory science in those days explained the enlarged goose and duck livers of certain birds not only as a devine inspiration. Once this metabolism was reproduced, domestic geese and duck were raised year-round for the production of Foie Gras.

Hebrew tribes embraced goose and duck fat which ideally replaced lard, forbidden by their faith. Breeding geese and duck was not just about fat and Foie Gras. Goose and duck eggs and meat are delicious; entrails, bones, cartilage, feathers, and eider had domestic and market value. The liver, however, was the golden egg, it was incomparable. It became the crown piece of festive food for Pharaons, viziers and nobles.


During the Exodus this tradition spread throughout the Mediterranean, first to Greece, then Rome, and eventually to France. Since the Middle Ages farmers in Alsace and the Périgord region became specialists of Foie Gras production. With the invention of the appertization in the early 19th century, food preservation became a professional activity which revolutionized food processing and distribution, giving birth to an important family run industry. Through its world-wide reputation Foie Gras has become the finest product of French gastronomy.

Foie Gras is an integral part of France's culinary and cultural heritage.

Goose or duck...? There's a taste for everyone

Today, duck Foie Gras is the most popular and consumed for its pronounced taste as well as its lower price. Goose Foie Gras has a more refined and delicate flavor, and has many amateurs amongst gourmets. Individual flavor should easily match one's personal taste. We recommend tasting them side by side. Both goose and duck Foie Gras will find amateurs in equal proportions.

The official classification

Only three types of products can be sold under the classification Foie Gras in France.

Whole Foie Gras (Foie Gras Entier)

Made from one or several entire liver lobes, it has a homogeneous shade once served in slices. Authorized seasoning include salt, sugar, spices, aromatic herbs, eau-de-vie, wine liqueur and wine.

Foie gras (Foie Gras)

This is made from agglomerated pieces of Foie Gras lobes, which may come from different fowl, adding seasoning. Its aesthetic marbled appearance is outstanding cut in slices.

Foie Gras in blocks (Bloc de Foie Gras)

Made from reconstituted Foie Gras, and seasoning. The recipe calls for goose or duck liver, chopped finely and emulsified. When pieces of Foie Gras lobes are included, it is called Foie Gras block with pieces (Bloc de Foie Gras avec morceaux); the whole pieces of Foie Gras are clearly visible when sliced.

Other recipes based on Goose or Duck Foie Gras

Foie Gras Parfait contains at least 75% Foie Gras. Foie Gras paté, galantines, medaillons and mousse must contain at least 50% Foie Gras.

Different packaging

Within an official classification, Foie Gras is divided depending on the cooking technique used which determines both texture and shelf life. While the most common packaging is canned Foie Gras it comes in terrines, vacum packed, or raw — on French markets.