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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Foie Gras

A Global History

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Foie Gras

A Global History

Few ingredients inspire more soaring praise and provoke greater outrage than foie gras. Literally meaning “fat liver,” foie gras is traditionally produced by force-feeding geese or ducks, a process which has become the object of widespread controversy and debate. In Foie Gras: A Global History, Norman Kolpas strives to provide a balanced account of this luxurious ingredient’s history and production from ancient Egypt to modern times. Kolpas also explores how foie gras has inspired famous writers, artists, and musicians including Homer, Herman Melville, Isaac Asimov, Claude Monet, and Gioachino Antonio Rossini. The book includes a guide to purchasing, preparing, and serving foie gras, as well as ten easy recipes, from classic dishes to contemporary treats.

152 pages | 50 color plates, 16 halftones | 4 3/4 x 7 3/4


Food and Gastronomy

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"A savory, unctuous delight, foie gras ranks near the top of a gourmet’s most prized and coveted gustatory pleasures. . . .  Kolpas inventories foie gras’ appearance in literature (Melville, Maugham), art (Monet), and even music (Rossini). Full color pictures entice, and Kolpas’s enthusiasm shines forth throughout, yet, he refrains from belittling foie gras’ adversaries."


"Kolpas argues that overfeeding geese mimics what pre-migratory birds do naturally, and our disapproval betrays an ignorance of bird physiology. . . . [An] excellent, brief chronicle of foie gras."


"Whether the recent decision of Fortnum & Mason to stop selling foie gras has you applauding or appalled will depend on where you stand when contemplating this French delectable. Kolpas's work will probably not be of interest to the former camp, but the latter is treated to a summary of the 4,500 year history of foie gras, from Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome, to Jewish cooks in the Middle Ages, Escoffer's 85 recipes, and its role in Hungarian cuisine."

The Field

"Kolpas strives to provide a balanced account of this debated pâté’s history and production from ancient Egypt to modern times."


“An engrossing story about one of the world’s most contentious, polarizing foods. This book may read as either tantalizing or repugnant, depending on the reader’s perspective, a dichotomy that makes foie gras so compelling. Kolpas does a great job of mixing historical and literary references with foie gras facts and practical advice that would be impressive just for the research required. Thankfully, Kolpas doesn't just stop at the library stacks in telling this tale.”

Joshua Lurie, founder of Food GPS

“Foie gras is an icon of the classic French kitchen. Kolpas not only deftly explores the history and culture of this regal dish but also thoroughly investigates and explains the ethical issues and controversies that constantly swirl around it. The result is an enthralling story perfect for any food lover who is intrigued by this one-of-a-kind ingredient.”

John Rivera Sedlar, award-winning chef and author

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