What Am I? Chopped Liver?
A variety of animals gloriously lend their livers to the food world. Beef, chicken, duck, and goose livers, also known colloquially and collectively as foie gras, monkfish liver, and pig liver, are just a few of these organs that end up on the global table. It can be baked, broiled, grilled, sautéed, and boiled. It can be stir-fried, fried, or eaten raw. And it can be made into wursts and terrines, sausages and forcemeats, which are a mixture of ground, lean meat emulsified with fat. Yum!
The liver us a vital organ, meaning its function is necessary to sustain your life. It has many jobs in the human body, including detoxification and the production of both hormones and bile (the stuff that helps digest fats and makes poop brown). It is the only organ in the human body that can regenerate, or regrow, itself. At least 25 percent of a healthy liver must be present to regenerate. This is helpful for people who need new livers, Donors can give 25 percent of their liver to a recipient. In successful cases, both parties will regenerate a healthy, functioning liver.
Translating to “fat liver” in French, foie gras is a goose or duck liver that has been fattened by force-feeding grain, typically corn, to the bird. This process, called garage, dates back to 2500 BC in ancient Egypt. Birds were force-fed to fatten them up before butchering.
Egyptians discovered that wild Nile River fowl gorge themselves in preparation for migrations. Migratory birds naturally store fat in their livers to prepare for long flights, where they torch calories and don’t eat much food. As the birds chow like crazy, the fat cells in the liver multiply and enlarge the liver. Thus, the Egyptians took to force-feeding the birds in captivity in order to achieve the same result.
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