Legal, Tender

If foie gras is outlawed, let them eat (Australian) cake.

FRIENDS RETURNING FROM New York and CMJ's annual Music Marathon (not a foot race, mind you, but a "showcase" for a bunch of bands being hawked by a bunch of record labels) spoke mostly of debaucherous parties and new pairs of shoes, but one had plenty to say about food. His most memorable meal? A hamburger stuffed with foie gras. That got me thinking about livers and stuffed things. And Arnold Schwarzenegger. The California governor recently signed a law that will effectively, uh, terminate, the consumption of that fatty delicacy in his state within seven and half years—a time period deemed sufficient for agricultural husbandry to develop more humane methods of cultivating engorged animal organs. Now, of course, there's more than one side to every contentious story, and while celebrities like Paul McCartney, along with groups like the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, say that "mechanically inducing disease" by "forcing-feeding" is just cruel, foie gras fans say no one is forcing anyone to overeat; the days of nailed-down duck feet and deep-throat tube-feedings are over. They point out that these animals will eat all day long if you let them, and sure, veterinary science allows that waterfowl are able to consume in huge quantities, but that's a survival tactic, not necessarily an indication that they're naturally gluttonous. Show PETA members a duck pond where bottomless buffets are offered in the wild and they might let you put this issue to bed. While Sonoma County, where California's foie gras is produced, either makes plans to move the ducks offshore or pipe chamber music into the feeding pens, chefs and suppliers here in Seattle don't seem too worried. Gabriel Claycamp of Culinary Communion gets his foie from the Hudson Valley in New York; he believes it's a superior product and he's seen videos of the farm, where ducks roam open fields and feed freely. Union's Ethan Stowell says that mindfulness and respect are the important issues. He purchases duck legs, duck tongue, and other parts of the animal from his Sonoma-based foie gras provider, and because the majority of the animal is used as sustenance, he doesn't see foie gras as an irresponsible product. A luxury food, yes, and Stowell enjoys being able to serve such luxuries—so long as they're not negligently harvested. He has a bigger problem with, for instance, caviar. But Seattle Caviar Company owner Betsey Sherrow says that when military forces invaded Iraq last March, it was the foie gras sign in their window, not the caviar sign, that they turned around in order to avoid being vandalized. Most caviar comes from Iran, but foie gras is associated with the French, and Sherrow didn't want to be freedom-fried. When California's bill was introduced, many worried that the '04 holiday season would see the final terrine of duck liver laid upon the table, but that won't be the case. In fact, I'd bet that any day know you'll encounter a menu bearing the burger that my friend came home raving about. ON TO SOMETHING far less controversial: Australian meat pies will never be made illegal, and recently they became easier to get your hands on, as did various Australian candies and a popular hangover cure called Berocca. After serving steak pies and sausage rolls in Burien for over six years, the Australian Pie Company recently opened up shop on Pike Street between First and Second avenues. Although the Burien location offers a larger array of Aussie goods, the downtown location is a great place to grab the pot pie–like snack—if, that is, you're game to navigate through the junkies. If you get there, be sure to try a lamington. It may be the end of the month before the dessert shows up at the downtown location, but when it does, the chocolate-dipped, coconut-covered sponge cake square is not to be missed. Endlessly moist and not overly sweet, they're so good that I'm even willing to forgive the Aussies Vegemite.

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