In 2002, celebrated chef Charlie Trotter quietly removed foie gras from his menu. Three years later, an entertainment reporter finally asked him why, given that Trotter used to move through 60 lobes more than 100 pounds a week. His response, and the war of words with fellow Chicago celebrity chef Rick Tramonto, appeared on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, kicking off a culinary war that continues to freak everybody out, especially farmers wielding force-feeding tubes and activists armed with buckets of red paint and chefs home addresses. Trotter claims he made his decision after visiting a few farms, seeing the tubes and the ducks and the intersection of both, and wondering, in his way, what in the name of God? Critics of his position were furious, braying, with all the logic of right-wing talk-show hosts, that Trotter was an idiot because his personal decision to stop the suffering of ducks did not include an addendum to stop the suffering of every animal raised for food on the entire planet. Aside from improving the working conditions of thousands of ducks, the imbroglio gave the reporter who broke the story, Mark Caro, a lock on foie gras writing. He extends his lead with the book The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World's Fiercest Food Fight. Today he speaks in the temple to meat, the Ferry Building, which may or may not sell foie gras, depending on whom and how well you ask.
Wed., March 25, 6 p.m., 2009