The production of foie gras is an age-old tradition whose origin can be
traced back over 4,500 years. A fresco painting discovered in an
ancient Egyptian tomb showing a slave feeding figs to a goose is proof of these
distant roots. (Saqqara necropolis). The banks of the Nile are a crossing point for migrating geese and
ducks, giving the Egyptians ample opportunity to observe the ease with which
the birds built up fatty reserves to sustain them on the journey home. They
found a way of reproducing this natural tendency of web-footed birds using
phase feeding (represented on several Egyptian tombs).
This tradition was spread and perpetuated by, amongst others, the Jewish people who, during their exodus, fattened geese to produce fat as a replace- ment for lard
for human consumption).
The fattened liver became known as "Jecur Ficatum" in Latin
(liver caused by figs). Foie gras was first served at a Roman meal in the 1st century B.C. ,
during a sumptuous banquet chronicled by Horace. The fondness of Romans for
liver fattened with figs reached such heights that as early as the 4th century,
"ficatum" ("with figs") became the term used to describe
the liver of all fattened animals. It would give rise to the French anatomical
term of "foie"
(liver) several centuries later.