Foie-kage: A fee charged by a restaurant to prepare foie gras purchased elsewhere. “Foie-kage” is a blend of foie (French, “liver”) and corkage, the fee restaurants charge to open a bottle of wine that isn’t bought on the premises. Sometimes called quackage (see Erin McKean, "Week in Words," Wall Street Journal).
Foie-kage was inspired by California’s statewide ban on foie gras, which was signed into law in 2004 by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and went into effect July 1, 2012. (The eight-year grace period gave the industry time to find an alternative to the force-feeding of fowl.) The bill had been backed by a coalition of animal-rights groups and sponsored by former State Senate President Pro-Tem John Burton, who wrote an op-ed column defending the law for the Los Angeles Times in April 2012:
Foie gras, French for “fatty liver,” is produced from the diseased and grossly enlarged liver of a duck or goose that has been force-fed grain. Multiple times each day for several weeks before slaughter, a pipe is shoved down the birds' throats and they're pumped full of mash, causing their livers to swell to more than 10 times normal size. The resulting fatty liver is served in fewer than 1% of California's restaurants. Most people would find it hard to stomach eating any part of a diseased animal, but in the case of foie gras, it's the diseased organ itself on which consumers dine.
Some restaurateurs have protested the ban, and that’s where foie-kage comes in. Bloomberg.com reported last week:
Mark Pastore, owner of Incanto, a San Francisco restaurant, said he’s open to charging a “foie-kage fee,” akin to corkage, to prepare the meat purchased in another state.
“Any law like this is bound to be full of loopholes,” Pastore said in a telephone interview. “There’s always going to be ways around something, which is part of the reason that passing laws like this is futile.”
NPR’s “Morning Edition” made foie-kage its “last word in business” on June 28.
Other unfamiliar words you may have seen in connection with this story include:
Foiemageddon, the hyperbolic term used by some liver- lovers who bewail the ban as a gastro-tastrophe. (See Gawker’s story, “Californians Would Slit Their Mamas’ Throats for a Bite of Foie Gras as ‘Foie-mageddon’ Looms.”) The -mageddon suffix has worked overtime in recent years: seesnowmageddon and carmageddon, for starters.
Faux gras, an alternative to foie gras. The Los Angeles Times reported that some restaurants may serve “a vegan pate made from lentils, walnuts and onions.”
Duckeasy, a restaurant “where diners can order foie gras using certain code words.” Formed in imitation of speakeasy. (Wall Street Journal)
Gavage, the traditional term for the force-feeding of geese. It comes from the French verb gaver, “to stuff,” and is etymologically related to gavotte, the 17th-century French court dance. “Gavotte” now suggests something stately, even pretentious*, but it was originally a peasant dance performed by gavots—residents of the Alps whose name means “gluttons” or “boors.”
* “You had one eye on the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte.” – Carly Simon