Food

JACKI LYDEN, host:

You might have heard about the culinary storm that swept over Chicago last year. The city council decided that force-feeding ducks and geese to produce foie gras was just too cruel and so they banned it, infuriating the city chefs. Well, nothing like a chef spurned, or burned, to spur on ingenuity.

Several have developed what's now called faux gras. Some chefs (unintelligible) of chicken livers, Tony Mantuano, who runs the Italian restaurant Spiaggia, uses only vegetables.

Buon giorno, Tony.

Mr. TONY MANTUANO (Chef, Spiagga): Buon giorno.

LYDEN: So I had heard about this ban, and New York and New Jersey and Illinois are all considering statewide bans so there might be a lot of chefs listening to this. Tony, could you please give us an idea of what's in your faux foie gras?

Mr. MANTUANO: I wish I could give you the recipe, but I'll tell you some of the basic ingredients. It's made up primarily of garbanzo beans or cece(ph) beans as the Italians call them. And there's onions and there's capers and there's lots of butter.

LYDEN: How does it taste? How close is it to the real thing?

Mr. MANTUANO: Well, you know, it's - I think the mouth feel is there. I think you're eating something really rich and because we put a little bit of insanto(ph) wine in it, you're sort of getting that richness factor. It's pretty close I think.

LYDEN: When you were developing this, did you do anything of that sort of, you know, chef's kitchen taste test kind of thing where you were trying to see if two people could tell the difference between the faux and the foie gras?

Mr. MANTUANO: Yeah, actually we did. And, you know, I first had something like this in a vegetarian restaurant in Milano. But it was like 15 years ago. And I had remembered it and when this ban came down, it's sort of disturbed the cobwebs a little bit. And I said to one of my sous chefs, I said, you know, I had this dish and I think this was what was in the dish at the time. And I just gave him a basic outline of ingredients and he came up with something based on those ingredients. And he actually had a lot of people taste it next to foie gras mousse and a lot of people, you could tell the difference, but they thought it was a great substitute.

LYDEN: So chickpeas are important.

Mr. MANTUANO: And lots of butter.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: My mouth is watering. I'll have to say arrivederci now.

Mr. MANTUANO: Arrivederci.

LYDEN: Chef Tony Mantuano runs Spiaggia in Chicago. He joined us from our Chicago bureau and thanks a lot, really. Grazie.

Mr. MANTUANO: You're welcome.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from