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Volume 79, Number 8 | July 29 - August 4, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

Californians attorney Bryan Pease and his wife, Kath Rogers, held a banner outside Momofuku on Sunday as a man stepped out of the restaurant and saw their banner.

‘Hey, Momofuku, the pâté’s over!’ foie gras foes warn

By Jefferson Siegel

For the second time in recent months, the Animal Protection & Rescue League held a protest at the East Village restaurant Momofuku, calling on the popular eatery, as well as other restaurants, to stop serving foie gras.

“Forced feeding is a diseased state where the liver can’t function,” explained Bryan Pease of A.P.R.L. Pease, a California attorney and his wife, Kath Rogers, stood on First Ave. between 10th and 11th Sts., holding a large banner of graphic photos as diners filed into the popular eatery.

Foie gras, French for “fattened liver,” is produced by inserting a feeding tube down the throat of a duck and force-feeding it, causing the liver to swell to 10 times its normal size.

“When you see foie gras on the menu, it doesn’t come with a disclaimer that they torture the ducks,” Pease said.

Ben Levine of the Flatiron district stood near the banner while waiting for his girlfriend to arrive.

“I was going to eat the chicken. We’ll definitely enjoy dinner a little less now that we’ve seen these pictures,” he said, looking at the images of ducks in various stages of engorgement.

Another patron stepped outside the restaurant to check his BlackBerry.

“I used to work in a meatpacking plant in Texas, so it doesn’t bother me as much,” he explained between texts.
Several diners exiting the restaurant called out, “I didn’t eat it.”

“We’re asking every restaurant in New York City that serves foie gras to take it off their menu,” Rogers said.

A restaurant employee referred questions to a corporate e-mail. Management did not reply to e-mailed questions by press time.

Ducks have never fared well, especially in the entertainment media. (See Daffy, Donald, Howard the). However, one recent film elevated the species with a touching portrayal of an elderly man searching for meaning in his remaining years. The movie “Duck” depicted actor Philip Baker Hall as a character wandering Los Angeles accompanied by a webbed-footed companion.

“I made ‘Duck’ a cautionary tale, as a reaction to the war in 2003,” director Nic Bettauer said in an e-mail.

“The bond between a human and an animal can be life altering and affirming. During the release of ‘Duck,’ I worked directly with Farm Sanctuary, which was leading the No Foie Gras movement with the Humane Society.

“Although I’m a hardcore foodie,” Bettauer added, “if I go to a restaurant and see foie gras on the menu it’s a deal-breaker for me, and I’m out of there.”

According to A.P.R.L., 15 countries have banned the force-feeding of ducks and geese for foie gras. In California, a statewide law banning the production and sale of foie gras goes into effect in 2012.

For more information on the issue go to www.aprl.org/foiegras.html.

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