Posted by: Team McSlade | April 6, 2010

Sud Ouest France and fat duck livers

Apparently, if you really care for a duck and you have its upmost respect and trust you are able to (force) feed it 6.5 kilos of corn in a week before giving Daffy the chop.

After that you have Fois Gras (literally liver fatty). Today, we visited the only Museum of Fois Gras in France, and found out in the course of it all, that the Egyptians first noticed that geese would gorge themselves on maize (corn) before migrating north to Europe. The geese did this to fatten their livers and have a reserve of energy for the migratory flight.
The Egyptians worked out eating fatten geese was two thumbs up; so they fatten the geese by hand, using figs to give a sweet meat and liver for them to munch on or just corn for a regular feed.

When we lived in Canada, on our trip across the country we heard a debate on radio over fois gras, and the negative side said they (producers) buried ducks up to their necks and force fed the ducks. We didn’t see any of that occur; they do put a funnel into the ducks mouth and get them to ‘eat’ the corn and the end product is a cracker on a cracker!
A side note here, when on Prince Edward Island in Canada in 2005, we said to the kids we would go to a ‘Lobster Supper’, where the locals in the basement of a church put on a spread of lobster and salads and for a small donation, you gorge yourself silly. As we are ‘out of season’ tourists, the Suppers were shut for the season and Jess went into atomic ‘I’m-nearly-seven-years-old’ meltdown over not having lobster for tea. We very nearly got the same brain fade today when we said we couldn’t take any fois gras back to Australia due to customs regulations.
We did however punch a hole in the visa card to the tune of 80Euros on fois gras, pate de fois gras, and confit de canard (duck pieces poached in duck fat, mmmmm drool, drool, Jo’s holding 1.5kg of that goodness in the photo below) to be consumed in Spain.
I can see that vego’s and animal rights activists may not be happy with this; but they are eating corn, not meat and all parts of the duck and corn are used (they burn the corn husks for fuel and the feathers can be used for toothpicks, sports jackets and duvets).

Back into the countryside and châteaux abound. Massive three storey mansions dot the landscape, grand barns are resplendent and even rundown houses in little villages have an air of class. Vianne is a walled bastide village which dates back to 1284 with cobbled streets and ‘knuckled’ trees (these are pruned back to ‘knuckles’ that grow new limbs each spring and summer and are heavily pruned back again in winter – weird and regal at the same time).
Nerac has the Châteaux of Henry IV, who went on to be King of France in the late C.16th; 500 – 600 year old houses are everywhere, it’s amazing to think they survived two World Wars and the French Revolution. Market squares with original timbers date back to the C.15th these oak beams were left in the closest river for 10 to 15 years to season so they would last. And last they have.

Prune museum for tomorrow, more Frenchie stuff and more baguettes. Slicing cheese and ham in the car today brought back memories of doing the same on the Paris underground a few years ago. Not really sure why people were looking at us funny, but there was a puppet show happening at the other end of the train carriage as well.
Must dash and eat some Roquefort blue vein cave aged cheese (only 16euro a kilo) and some goat’s cheese (alas not Alan’s goats cheese).

Just quickly, Jo has been banging out some French, the good(?) people of Trinity College helped her with twenty years ago to decent affect. In Nerac, as parking space is not a luxury here; an old man said to me as he got into his car:
“Blah, blah, un oui, mi, blah blah” – clearly I had no idea, he was speaking French. I, like an Australian emu in Citroën headlights froze, nodded and scrambled sheepishly into the car.
Jo ‘I-don’t-know-a-lot-of-French’ Slade said “Oh he said ‘Lucky, I’m still small, I can fit.’”

Not bad thanks.



  1. Have you ever seen a bigger smile on the heads of the McSlades…who knew that all it took was a little bit of force-fed quackers!!

    Et Jo – je suis impressione que tu peux parler francais tres bien…et en France!

  2. Fois gras today – will it be escargot or frog’s legs tomorrow?

  3. Geez that’s dedicated Jo, on the other side of the world and still promoting UniSA!

    • When the washing costs 6euros for about a quarter load, you’re more than happy to dig deep into your bag and don the work polar fleece!

  4. In the spirit of fostering joyful international blogging relations. Here with-in lies my blog comment 😉

    Loving the adventure’s, here’s hoping we can join up for lashings of liver and perhaps even a fromage fondu in La Switzera.

    I will fwd an image of Col du Tourmalet for the album:
    Since 1947, the Tour has crossed the summit 47 times, plus a stage finish at the summit in 1974. Since 1980 it has been ranked hors catégorie, or exceptional.

    The 2010 edition of the tour will feature riders crossing the summit of the Col du Tourmalet not once but twice. For the second time Tourmalet features stage finish on the latter visit.

    At the col is a memorial to Jacques Goddet, director of the Tour de France from 1936 to 1987, and a large statue of Octave Lapize gasping for air as he struggles to make the climb.

    Looking froward to seeing the Col again soon a double crossing this year- impressive. Phil Anderson tells me that back in the day they would ride it twice in one day. A morning stage and then again in the afternoon stage, once even as a time trial.
    Roll on


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