California’s ban on foie gras goes into effect July 1, and lovers of the French delicacy have been clamoring to get their fix before it disappears from menus and markets. But even as chefs and diners prepare for foiemaggedon, there are signs that the law may have a number of loopholes and that no one is all that keen to be enforcing it in the first place.
The law prohibits the production or sale of foie, not possession. Many are interpreting this to mean that if foie gras were to be legally procured in another state and then be brought to a restaurant in California, then it technically wouldn't be contraband, so long as it was not sold for cash money. The thinking is that it could be served as an amuse, or a free side to a dish. Or the complimentary topping to a really expensive piece of toast. This is a tactic that was used by Chicago chefs before the city's 2006 anti-foie law was overturned in 2008. A whole "duckeasy" culture and language sprung up to get around the rules — one restaurant had a Turtle Soup club, where members would hand over a card with a turtle on it to order foie, others had code names like "special lobster" or "$16 roast potatoes", while others offered the dish as a verbal special so that there would be not written proof of the contraband on offer.
According to Bloomberg
, California chefs trying such tactics won't have to worry about law enforcement going after them. The LAPD and SFPD don't plan on investigating any foie 911 calls, and as long as the foie is produced out of state, representatives from state animal welfare organizations don't plan on citing chefs for mere possession either.
Animal rights activists are not so easily appeased and are vowing to protest any under the table foie.