Tonight, I’m going to an ‘underground foie gras dinner’ at a nice unnamed restaurant in Chicago. Fieldwork and lawbreaking, together over appetizers. The very fact that these dinners have been happening in Chicago since the ban went into effect in August, 2006, makes it clear that restaurant owners and customers seem downright happy to break the law*.
But wait a minute. Isn’t this the law, that incredible institution that must be respected, lest the entire society be put at risk. Or not?
It seems in this case, an ethic of transgression is the order of the day. The ordinance has been averted through interpretation of its wording (FG has been ordered through code words and has been ‘given away’, with the purchase of a $16 slice of bread).
The overall argument from the transgressors is that the law is dumb (Mayor Daley has repeatedly called it ‘silly’), that foie gras is a traditional and historical (and tasty) product, that is actually produced in a small-scale, artisanal manner, and that if we outlaw it, couldn’t we (and shouldn’t we) say that all mass-produced animal products should be banned from sale/manufacture, since such processes could be considered inherently cruel to animals?
Part Two of this post will happen tomorrow, with a report on tonight’s events.
* The text of the ordinance reads “All food dispensing establishments, as defined in section 4-8-010 of the Municipal Code shall prohibit the sale of foie gras.”