The history of goose liver goes back a long way, and foie gras has enjoyed continuing popularity for thousands of years. It is a luxury dish – not only because of its special taste and consistency, but also because of its highly beneficial components. In Hungary it is considered a Hungarikum, a real Hungarian speciality, but of course it is well-liked all over the world.
Fattened goose liver was produced in ancient Egypt already, and in Rome geese were fed with a mixture of flour, milk and honey. Before America was discovered, and for a long time after that, before corn became really widespread, geese had been fed, or force-fed, if you like, with other energy dense feed to have large and fatty liver.
A well-known energy dense food is fig. Today, this fruit is still often paired with foie gras dishes. As figs don’t grow everywhere, in northern countries apples were served instead of figs, with caramelized sugar. Nowadays, foie gras is paired with many kinds of fruits and various flavours, you can create anything you dream up. There are many possible methods of preparation for foie gras: searing, cooking, steaming and grilling, and you can make a paté, a mousse or even ice cream from it.
The spread of corn brought about a profound change in goose fattening. In Hungary, for example, producing fattened geese became a part of the rural tradition. Goose fattening started in the autumn, the geese were kept in a confined space and were force-fed twice a day with salted corn soaked in water. With this method, fattening took only a month. For the peasantry on the south part of the Great Hungarian Plain, goose fattening was a major source of income.
In 2013, the Hungarikum Committee added goose liver and all other products made from fattened goose to the Collection of Hungarikums.
Besides its special flavour, liver has many advantages, for example it is a great source of vitamins. Goose and chicken liver and the liver of some fish are rich in vitamin A, pork liver in vitamin B1 and chicken in B6. The vitamin C and also the vitamin E content of veal and chicken liver is high, and the latter also contain a lot of folic acid, iron and zinc, and they are also good sources of calcium and potassium.