So when a local "slow food" style restaurant was recently torched by animal activists for the "crime" of serving fois gras, it makes me, a person who normally would never order the dish, want to request it the moment the restaurant is able to reopen its doors. The only problem is, I'm betting the owners of Tiburon in Sandy will quit serving the fatty liver treat because, hey, it's just not worth the bile.
Local restaurants that serve fois gras have increasingly become the target of picketing, threats and vandalism. Metropolitan, in downtown Salt Lake City, caved to pressure and took the fatty duck-liver pate off its menu more than a year ago.
An individual close to the Tiburon serving staff notes the restaurant recently was picketed by a small group professing to be anti-animal cruelty. So, Tiburon removed fois gras from its published menu but allegedly continued to serve it upon request.
According to our source, in the past month, an odd-looking dinner party came in and asked about any unpublished specials "beginning with the letter 'F.'" The unwitting server told them about the fois gras, which they ordered. When he came back to the table with the dish, the party had vanished but left a note stating they had been "audited."
According to media accounts, early Friday, July 2, Tiburon was set ablaze. Our anonymous source says a rock was used to break a window, after which the vandals broke into the restaurant, poured kerosene all over tables and chairs and attempted to start a fire, leaving dozens of spent matches on the floor. Someone walking by the restaurant before 8 a.m. smelled smoke and called the fire department. So, a fire that would have likely burned the place down only caused about $10,000 in damages and shut the restaurant down for a week. Our source says that most of the damage will be covered by insurance, and servers may receive some pay to offset the lost work time.
But anyone who's been through a fire knows the headache of smoke and water damage and the subsequent required sorting, cleaning, repainting, reupholstering, etc. Then there's the police and fire department interviews, the onslaught of attention by the media, the concern for employees out of work, worries about how to re-attract clientele. And all for the love of fatty duck liver?
Yesterday, ABC4 TV revealed it had received an email from an individual claiming the ALF was behind the fire: "The ALF (animal liberation front) is watching and there is nowhere to hide. The arson at the Tiburon restaurant in Sandy Utah was done because of there (sic) sale of Foie Gras (young duck) and other 'wild game'. Animals exist for there (sic) own purposes, not human ends. Go Vegan! ALF Lonewolf."
So, is eating fois gras (which involves fattening a duck by force feeding and caging it for the final three weeks of its life) the ultimate expression of cruelty? Sir Roger Moore of James Bond fame says it is. No Reservations' Anthony Bourdain says no way is it cruel (see videos below).
If it is cruel, how is eating fois gras more cruel than eating chicken or pork products, animals also raised in factory farm environments? Beef and dairy products have their own "cruel" streaks, if you want to go there.
So, assuming animal liberationists succeed in intimidating local restaurants into no longer serving fois gras, is pork the next target? Can factory chicken be far behind?
The ALF action, if it's legitimately theirs and not some other form of suburban mischief, represents a change in animal-liberation activism, as noted by activist Peter Young notes in his Voice of the Voiceless blog. The brave new world of "individual" action makes me fear for the future of locally owned dining establishments such as Tiburon, places that offer a unique menu of meats such as farmed elk and bison. Is the future of local dining going to involve a security guard going through our bags and having our bodies scanned before we can enter the establishment? Bars on the windows, attack dogs patrolling the grounds? If it is, I say, serve me up some fois gras.