‘Duck in a Can’ man bails Ottawa’s Winterlude

I felt bad the last few days that I have been sick in bed with strep throat and havent had energy to blog. Just when I thought some time could be ignored I checked my google alerts and there it was – Ron Eade’s article on Winterlude. If you havent read this yet, this is my courtesy to you http://www.ottawacitizen.com/story_print.html?id=4093460&sponsor=

I wish I could say “ya good job Ottawa” or “Im there with ya” but …damn you! For those of you who aren’t following me, Martin Picard has single handedly changed the face of Montreal food. Not by his smooth elegance or his plating style. Not by his unique flavours or his tv show (well… maybe by his tv show) but by his crazy rustic take on food. He is a burly middle aged man who loves food, loves sauces, and loves his meat – all parts of it. What Martin Picard is most known for is his foie gras and secondarily the ‘duck in a can’ or ‘Canard en Conserve’. The duck in a can is a prepared meal that can be ordered at his restaurant Au Pied du Cochonhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llUGqul4TtQ or ordered for take-out in a prelabed can in a prestamped bag http://www.followmefoodie.com/2010/11/au-pied-de-cochon-duck-in-a-can/.

What led Martin Picard to turn down the offer of highlighting our Winterlude is due to the protesters most offended by his use of foie Gras on his menu. Indeed the duck in a can does contain foie gras, and his local menu does feature foie. I am including a bunch of links in this blog article simply because I understand the views of Foie gras are quite controversial and I need to make sure every point I use is referenced.

Foie Gras is a delicacy in french cuisine, namely in France and other European countries. In preparation for the fattened goose/duck liver a bird is allowed to graze the farm for the majority of its life and then introduced to a regiment of force-feeding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foie_gras). The bird is monitored on the amount of vegetable diet (usually carrrot) until the liver of the bird is fattened and of optimal size (and flavour due to the fat content of the liver). The bird is then killed for its meat and of course the liver. This procedure differs only technically to the farming regiment of cattle and other animals in preparing for food. Cows, for example, are allowed to freely graze the farm with a specific diet in mind for the quality and taste of the animal. Once the farmer is in need of supplying more meat to the market the cow is killed and preserved for shipment.

Martin Picard has chosen to recreate this delicacy in North America – preserving the true quality of the fine dish. He has not only challenged the ways in which the food is served but utilizes the finest local ingredients (http://www.foodnetwork.ca/ontv/shows/At-The-Table-With/episode.html?titleid=111987&episodeid=111324). In fact despite his love for food, he does offer a variety of fresh vegetables to vegetarians who visit the restaurant. A National Post interview with Picard Illustrated Picard’s views on vegetarians, saying ““We have a lot of people who are vegetarians who come here. We buy $8,000 per month of vegetables. We respect and they respect.”. The truth of the matter is Martin Picard respects the farmers and respects the delicate nature of each ingredient, all for the love of cooking.

As a french cook he has taken it upon himself to take the classic dished of France and transformed them into hearty mouthfulls of intense flavour. Who knows what Picard had planned for Ottawa this year, but only a few weeks after our Celebrity Chef day it would have been a great continuation of the month and a strong beginning to the new year. I have no doubt that Michael Smith will fill Picard’s shoes but it is a shame it had to go this way.

There are tons of resources out there about foie gras and the farming processes for all types of animals. I am not here to persuade you in any which way; all I ask is that you research what you eat, understand the history behind it, and then make a sound decision.

Let the games begin,


latest on this topic: Several Ottawa restaurants have decided to add foie gras to their festival menus in support of Mr. Picard, and online postings are comparing the NCC’s move to Europe’s import ban on seal products in the face of protests. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/quebec/duck-liver-flap-ruffles-feathers-of-ottawa-restaurateurs/article1866502/