Friday, August 31, 2007
The recent news that Georgia and Florida may soon be producing caviar is good news for those of us who love the stuff. I've been bonkers for caviar for as long as I can remember. But the moment that sealed my love for the salty impossibly unctuous zygotes of the sturgeon can be traced to the day that my videographer brother, recently returned from a trip shooting artist Peter Max's tour of the USSR, appeared at our parent's house with 10 6 1/4 ounce tins of primo Beluga that he had bought from an allegedly perfidious waiter in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) for 10 dollars a piece. Now that's what I'm talking about.
My experience with caviar produced in North America has not yielded anything even close to the best Russian or Iranian varieties. The best American caviar thus far has been American Paddlefish Caviar but as good as it can be , and it can be very good, it cannot compete with the best stuff out of the Caspian sea. But it's illegal to import caviar from Russia and, ahem, the only stuff we seem to be importing from Iran is anti-semitic tirades and stories of draconian measures to prevent women from infecting the male pedestrian population with the virus for priapism.
Of course the truly crazy thing is that the United States used to own the caviar market for much of the 19th and early 20th century. Until American fishermen, pollution and boat propellers virtually wiped out populations of Atlantic and other river sturgeon, the United States was the principal supplier of caviar to Europe and the stuff was so abundant that it was given away as bar food. So it's kind of cool that sturgeon and caviar are making a bit of a comeback here although I would much prefer to it happening to native species in the wild and not imported stock in fish ponds.