Israeli Judges Outlaw Fois Gras
Last week the death knell was perhaps definitively sounded for a long European Jewish tradition and a thriving agricultural sector in Israel.

Goose slaughterhouses and processing facilities in Binyamina and Petah Tikva told 200 workers they would be jobless by Pessah, as goose farmers too, brought their activities to a close, the Goose Farmers Association announced.

"As of today [Wednesday] we're stopping," said goose farmer Yaakov Yosef, of Moshav Beit Yosef, who ran a farm with his two brothers and their families producing 60,000 geese annually.

A government decision - which was finalized on February 22 when the High Court of Justice overturned appeals - forbids geese to be transferred to fattening facilities after March 15, and forbids the slaughtering of the fattened geese after April 15.

Roughly 600 families in Israel depended on the sector for a livelihood, the association said, noting that Israeli goose farmers sold NIS 150m. worth of goose products yearly, about 60 percent of which were in the form of 400 tons of goose liver (foie gras). About half of the sales went to the domestic market and the other half were sold abroad.

"Israeli goose products are the best in the world," said Yossi Levy, sales representative for Petah Tikva-based Foie Gras, which boasts exports worldwide, including Europe, Japan, the US, Thailand and Mexico.

Such a statement may seem unbelievable given the fame and prestige of French foie gras - one of the foundations of Gallic culinary pride - but the French themselves make no effort to conceal the delicacy's origins in the country's ancient Jewish communities.

Goose raising was a particular specialty of the communities in the Rhineland region of Alsace. A not-uncommon belief among French goose liver afficionados is that the Jews brought the tradition to Europe straight from the ancient Near East.

Claudia Roden - in her definitive work The Book of Jewish Food - notes that several Ashkenazic classics, from rendered poultry fat (schmaltz) to chopped liver (an uncle of French pate), traditionally were based on the goose in the "Old Country." Smoked goose breast, sold in supermarkets throughout Israel, is often referred to as "Jewish bacon..."
As odd as if they'd outlawed Matzoh balls and gefilte fish.
Posted by: Anonymoose 2006-03-19