It seems I am stuck on the C’s right now. Maybe I should have started with A and just gone through the alphabet. This weeks ingredient of the week is caviar. Thank you to Emma for the thoughtful suggestion. I will say I do have a biased view on it, but I will share facts as well as my personal feelings.
I tried caviar on a school tour at the Art Institute of seattle where I am currently attending. It was exciting to try something new, but nothing I would have expected. The caviar was bright red shiny little balls. They looked similar to tapioca pearls. Let me tell you they are very intriguing. The little kid in me though they must be little candies though I knew full well what they were. Looking at them I thought they must taste like strawberries or something else sweet. Boy was I wrong. They taste like fish mixed with salt water. Not something I found pleasant at all. I am a bit ashamed to say I ate more than one after deciding I didn’t like them because they did look so good.
Now for some history on caviar. It is not clear when the first person looked at the little balls in the water said, “ Oh that looks good, let’s eat it”, but the first record of eating caviar dates to the 1240s. This was only in a small select part of the world it wasn’t until the 18oo’s that it became worldly popular. Thank the French for importing it from Russia. And it seems to be common that if started in France it will become popular. The name caviar comes from the turkish people.
Good roe (term for the fish eggs) comes from the caspian sea, but the oldest fisheries for caviar are located in Astrakhan, Russia. These are believed to date back nearly 200 years.
Caviar comes from sturgeon usually. They were heavily fished so for a while caviar was abundant, but with overfishing they became rare and the prices of caviar went up. Caviar is made by adding salt to fish eggs. Before chilled refrigeration, caviar had to be heavily salted. Then it was placed in barrels to ship.
Some interesting facts about caviar include:
- Those who make it have to go through a 10-15 year apprenticeship
- King Edward II decreed sturgeon the property of the Imperial Treasury
- Silver utensils change the taste thus should not be used
- Just salt should be used with caviar not pepper or other spices
There is a lot more history to this delicacy than I ever thought about. I love learning this stuff about ingredients. It means so much to know where something comes from. It helps give a sense of awareness about what we eat.