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Foie gras
Foie gras
Estimated price per pound: $50

Foie gras - duck or goose liver fattened by force-feeding - has been a delicacy since Roman times, when geese livers, fattened on figs, were doused in milk and honey. Today, geese and ducks are force-fed corn through feeding tubes, a practice that animal-rights activists decry for its cruelty. Ethical concerns haven't deterred too many foie gras fans, though: In May 2008 the city of Chicago repealed its foie gras ban after only two years.

Guillermo and Junny Gonzalez, originally from El Salvador, apprenticed with French foie gras producers before moving to California in 1985 and establishing Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras. There, they raise ducks for foie gras and other meat (humanely, according to Guillermo Gonzalez) and sell their products wholesale and retail (their retail price for fresh foie gras is $50 a pound).

"There's nothing else like foie gras," Guillermo Gonzalez says. "I can't find words to describe it. It has a unique flavor and silky texture that can't be replicated."

The French are the biggest foie gras devotees, but chefs at Asian, American and a variety of "fusion" restaurants have embraced foie gras as a way to make any entrée more indulgent. You'll find it on top of burgers and steaks, stuffed inside game hens and even made into hot dogs. Traditionally, though, it's served as an appetizer, with toast and sometimes a little fresh fruit or compote. Serve it with chilled Sauterne.

NEXT: Rare golden tigerfish

LAST UPDATE: Jul 23 2008 | 9:40 AM ET
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