The term foie gras is subject to a number of strict rules. Labelling on foie gras products must clearly distinguish between something that is 100% foie gras and something that has other ingredients as well as foie gras. The latter is not allowed to be called foie gras, although the label may state the percentage of foie gras present. These other products may be labelled as paté, mousse or galantine, for example.
Seventy percent of French people will eat foie gras during the Christmas period. Foie gras can be either duck or goose liver.
Top quality foie gras with truffles.
There are different grades of foie gras even when they are 100% foie gras. The term 'foie gras entier' must be composed only of entire lobes of foie gras and some seasoning. The term 'foie gras' refers to pieces of foie gras, not entire lobes, pressed together and seasoned. The term 'bloc de foie gras' means reconstituted foie gras. If it contains a minimum 30% of pieces it can be termed 'bloc avec morceaux', which is a higher quality than just 'bloc'.
Then there are the products that contain foie gras plus other ingredients. Preparations with more than 50% foie gras can be called 'parfaits de foie d'oie ou de canard' (at least 75% foie gras plus liver sourced from ducks or geese not raised using the force feeding technique to produce 'fat liver'); 'medaillons ou pâté de foie d'oie ou de canard' (at least 50% foie gras or bloc de foie gras, formed into a core wrapped in a liver paste); and 'galantine de foie d'oie ou de canard' (at least 50% foie gras or bloc de foie gras mixed to a paste and seasoned).
The dizzying array of foie gras products on display in a small town
French supermarket just before Christmas.
Mousses have to be 50% foie gras, mixed to a paste and seasoned. Preparations containing at least 20% foie gras can be labelled 'pâté au foie d'oie ou au canard'. Note the subtle difference in terminology -- products with at least 50% foie gras are 'of foie gras', products with less (but at least 20%) are 'with foie gras'.
Since 2000 there has been an Indication géographique protegée (IGP or Certified Geographical Protection) for Foie Gras Ducks of the South-West. Since 1996 duck foie gras in France has come exclusively from male ducks. Since 1995 a foie gras must weigh more than 300 g.
Of course, we avoid all of these complexities by making our own from scratch every year.
For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.