Los Angeles - Californian foie gras fans stuffed themselves at gastronomic last suppers as a ban on the delicacy finally came into force.

But even before the deadline, devotees of the prized French foodstuff – fatty liver, made by force-feeding ducks or geese – had worked on ways to get round the ban, dubbed “foie-maggedon” by some.

While animal rights groups hailed the law which outlaws selling or making foie gras – pushed through by ex-governor Arnold Scwarzenegger – pro-foie gras supporters said they hoped it would eventually be repealed.

From today anyone found selling or making foie gras in California will face a $1 000 (R8 166) fine, under a law passed in 2004 but which gave the state’s only foie gras producer seven-and-a-half years to comply.

In the run up to the ban, top chefs including Thomas Keller redoubled efforts to persuade MPs to overturn the ban.

But John Burton, the former California legislator who drafted the law, likened the tradition of foie gras to waterboarding and female genital mutilation.

“I’d like to sit all 100 of them down and have duck and goose fat – better yet, dry oatmeal – shoved down their throats over and over and over again,” he said.

While restaurateurs have vowed to abide by the new law, ways of circumventing the ban will no doubt be tested in the coming weeks and months.

One is the possibility that diners could bring foie gras with them to a restaurant, and pay a “foie-kage” fee – the equivalent of corkage paid to bring wine.

Others talk of private supper clubs, organised without any formal sale of foie gras, using the fact the new law bans only the sale and production of the delicacy, not its consumption or sharing by friends. - Sapa-AFP