No foie gras was served at the banquet for Nicolas and Carla Sarkozy at Windsor Castle last week, which was hardly surprising, since the Prince of Wales, who was very much in evidence, had recently joined the swelling ranks of those who regard the force-feeding of ducks and geese as a barbaric practice.
In February it was revealed that Prince Charles had banned foie gras from his table and had even decided to review the royal warrant given to his local delicatessen, the House of Cheese at Tetbury near Highgrove, because it offered it for sale.
Perhaps the French President hadn’t been told about this; but if he had, he might well have regarded the Prince’s stand as a provocation, given France’s fierce pride in its incomparable national delicacy.
France not only produces about 75 per cent of all the foie gras eaten in the world, it has also, in a motion passed by the National Assembly, declared it to be a ‘cultural and gastronomic patrimony protected in France’ — warning everyone that no amount of pressure will stop it producing it.
The pressure has been intensifying in recent years, and not only from predictable sources such as Brigitte Bardot and other animal rights activists. New laws banning the production of foie gras have been sweeping the world.
It is now illegal in 16 countries, including Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Israel and the Netherlands (where the Dutch royal family had stopped eating it before Prince Charles got the idea). The European Union, too, is calling for less cruelty in its production.
In the United States, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (reportedly after being lobbied by Sir Paul McCartney) has banned the sale or production of foie gras in California, as have the city authorities in Chicago.