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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Caviar 101 - Who Eats This Stuff Anyway?

For many, images of Joan Collins dressed to the nines lounging about the house with absolutely nothing to do but eat endless mounds of beluga and glasses of champage, on old episodes of Dynasty, are conjured up replete with a giggle or two. While, its true that caviar has historically been considered to be the 'height of all luxuries', the 'passion of high society', and a symbol of status and success, today it would be safe to describe caviar as a specialty item associated with fine dining.

According to historical records, the early Persians were the first to consume the eggs of the Sturgeon fish, gathered from the icy waters of the mystic Caspian Sea. Apparently Imperial Persians, Greeks and Romans believed it increased stamina and power. This eyebrow-raising bit of information was likely due to the fact that the immense fish was so diffifult and dangerous to catch. The combination of caviar's link with extraordinary strength and its overall rarity doubtless made the delicacy only more appealing to the Czars, Emperors and aristocrats throughout the world. As far back as the 2nd century, "during the highest power of Rome, a jar of Sturgeon Roe cost the same amount as 100 sheep". Throughout history the chief purveyors of premium Sturgeon caviar passed from the Iranians to the Russians, both respectively perfecting its harvest and processing.

In America, native American women are known to have weaned their infants on Sturgeon caviar. Surprisingly early American did not consider Sturgeon as a valuable fish and fed it only to slaves at one point. However, soon German immigrants began to harvest Sturgeon from the Delaware River region and caused a 'Caviar Rush'. Within this period there wasn't a bar, pub or tavern that did not have it on hand, readily as peanuts - a salty snack to encourage more sipping. Over-fishing ran the prices uncharacteristically low, cause for the development of government regulations on its harvesting.

But the question is... Who eats its anymore?

Well, according to the literature its no longer the Joan Collin-esce, rich showoff, who has no idea where it comes from or what is even is. Fewer and fewer Airlines are serving it to its First Class Passengers. Even Queen Elizabeth is reported to have taken it off several menus. It is quickly becoming the Foodie, Kitchen Connaisseurs, wine and spirits enthusiasts, and students of the preservation of natural and essential food. Of course, if you want to don your favorite robe and tiara, no one's here to judge.

Take good care,

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