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This exceptional delicacy is ideal for a special occasion. In France, foie gras is usually eaten cold at the start of the meal. We recommend it's taken out of the fridge 10 – 15 minutes before being eaten. It should be cut using a knife with a long, narrow blade which has been dipped in warm water. It's best to cut straight down and so avoid breaking the slice.

Purists say the slices must simply be placed, not spread, on your farmhouse bread. It's true that the palate can then entirely focus on the foie gras. There are other traditions too. The bread can be replaced by gingerbread, or you can add pepper, or half a spoon of onion or fig jam. It's all a question of taste. To surprise your guests, what about a slice of walnut bread, on which you first put a rocket leaf, then a slice of foie gras and finally drizzle some drops of balsamic vinegar over it.

A pasteurised foie gras or a mi cuit (see Making foie gras) can also be eaten with other items. It would be delicious with parma ham on grissini, or with fresh tagliatelle on which it should be allowed to melt, or again on magret de canard (duck fillets) … and, above all, on toast.

When raw it should be made into small escalopes and then carefully cooked and quickly served. There's no doubt that this is the very best way to appreciate the taste of foie gras.

Recipe books have lots of ideas on how to use this special delicacy. We would advise trying 'Pan-fried foie gras with pear' or 'Foie gras on sweet brioche bread'. And, of course, there's the irreplaceable 'Tournedos Rossini': cook your tournedos to taste and when very nearly cooked (a minute before serving) place a slice of foie gras on the meat. Serve immediately, accompanied by a salad.

As for drink, tradition says you should enjoy a sweet wine with foie gras, ideally a Sauternes or a Jurancon. You could also try a different taste by drinking a demi sec champagne (see Champagne), or even a dry white wine like a Pouilly Fuissé.