When a Chicago chef begged the city to keep its laws off his menus, animal-rights radicals retaliated by vandalizing his restaurant, smashing his window and destroying flower boxes. So opens another chapter in the now highly politicized history of the delicacy foie gras.
Chef Didier Durand testified before the Health Committee of the Chicago City Council last Tuesday, asking the legislators to dismiss a proposed ban on the delectable dish:
To take it off our menu would be destroying a time-honored culinary tradition. Every restaurant has the right to serve what they want. We welcome all palates. But we strongly contend that they are not matters to be regulated by law, but by personal choice.
Despite Durand’s testimony, the ban passed the committee and now sits before the full City Council. Chef Durand’s restaurant was vandalized the next day. The crime was sadly reminiscent of a similar incident in 2003, when Animal Liberation Front extremists used flooding and spray paint to cause $50,000 in damage to a California restaurant specializing in foie gras.
In addition to Durand’s defense of the French culinary tradition, the Health Committee was treated to the testimony of former M*A*S*H star Loretta Swit (“Hot Lips”), who argued that permitting the production of foie gras leads to torture like that at the Abu Ghraib military prison in Iraq.
Earlier this year Chicago Mayor Richard Daley summarized the problems with the proposed ban neatly:
We’re trying to tell people they can’t eat certain foods. They can’t buy certain foods. They can’t ship certain foods in. Pretty soon, you can’t drink. Do you really want government to keep telling you every day what to do?
After the ban passed the committee, Daley had a few more questions:
So the City Council is going to start [making] lists of things you should not buy? What is the next issue? Chicken? Beef? Fish?