A festival renowned for serving up a rich recipe of words, music, imagination and food has made a promise this year that one thing will not be on the menu – foie gras.
The French high-society delicacy might be posh enough for the upmarket Port Eliot Festival – which over the years has attracted many writers, artists and thinkers including Jarvis Cocker, Dominic West, Grayson Perry, Hanif Kureishi and Louis De Bernières among a host of others – but festival organisers are joining an anti-cruelty stance against the controversial foodstuff.
Foie gras, made with goose or duck liver and protected as part of the cultural and gastronomical heritage of France, is controversial due to the nature of its production in which geese or ducks are force-fed with a gavage to fatten up their livers.
Pressure group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) had contacted the festival to raise concerns about the production process of the foodstuff as part of its ‘stop foie gras cruelty’ campaign but organisers said the festival managers had already planned a ban on the sale of foie gras at the event and had never been aware of the sale of the foodstuff in its previous years either.
The festival, however, decided to make its stance on the sale of the foie gras public to make the policy clear to festival-goers and others involved in the event.
Peta contacted the festival as part of its anti-cruelty campaign which has already seen many other high-profile organisations make a pledge.
A festival spokesman said: “Discussions about preventing the sale of foie gras at this year’s Port Eliot Festival were taking place many months before a request was received from Peta. As we mentioned to Peta when it contacted us, foie gras will not be served at the festival or used in any cookery demonstrations on site. We would be pleased if foie gras were banned from sale in the UK.”
Everyone taking part in the event will be made aware of the policy.
However, the festival – one of the most high-profile events in the Westcountry’s summer season – will have a host of other delights on offer for foodies, lovers of literature and music enthusiasts.
And there will be no loss of fine delicacies without foie gras as the event attracts many of the country’s top chefs and major names in the food industry.
Among the well-heeled names at this year’s event will be Fortnum & Mason, which has been serving up fine food to discerning customers from its Piccadilly store since 1707 and which will, for the first time in its history, leave London behind and head for the country for a starring role in the Port Eliot Festival.
In a ground-breaking partnership, Fortnum & Mason will sponsor the new Flower and Fodder Stage, a heaven for foodies and a haven for chefs, growers, gardeners and food writers.
The culture through-out the rest of the festival is set to be as rich as the food, and with 12 different stages running at various times over the weekend there should be something for everyone.
For book-lovers there will be readings from wordsmiths renowned around the world, including Rachel Cooke, Sean Hughes and Christopher Hampton, who at the beginning of his career was the youngest writer ever to have a play performed in the West End and hopes to one day be the oldest.
And on the musical and cabaret line-up, amongst others, are musical educators Public Service Broadcasting, who take samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material and mix them with live drums, guitar, banjo and electronics as they ‘teach the lessons of the past through music of the future’.
The festival takes place July 24-27 in St Germans, Cornwall, with tickets available from £172.50 for the weekend.