(#wanderlusttips #caviar) Caviar is a mysterious, special and nutritious luxury food. It is taken from sturgeon and considered one of ten products worldwide symbolising luxury and wealth.
What is Caviar?
Caviar is a roe that has its fat removed, and is lightly salted without iodine. This processing method dates back many centuries. Only the eggs of sturgeon are called Caviar or salted Caviar.
Natural caviar is mainly found in the Caspian Sea, which is surrounded by Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. There are other types of sturgeon that live in rivers and lakes across the Northern Hemisphere.
Caviar is an extremely nutritious food with ingredients including calcium, phosphor, protein, selenium, iron, magnesium, fatty acid omega-3, amino acid, mineral and Vitamin B12, B6, B2, B44, C, A, D. Scientists have indicated that caviar can help reduce the danger of depression, prevent heart disease, and can be used for treatment of asthenia, tuberculosis, mal-nutrition, lack of vitamins, neurasthenia and to generally improve your health. Caviar is especially good for children and pregnant women.
Caviar is also considered the food of love thanks to its unforgettable taste, luxurious reputation and it is said to be a potent aphrodisiac. The association with caviar and a satisfying love life stems from the relationship between Aphrodite, the goddess of love born from sponges, with everything fish related. Caviar is also a symbol of fertility. Its healing qualities however are the most significant feature of caviar. Scientists believe that caviar can foster neurons that aid people in their romantic endeavours.
In addition, caviar is considered an antidote to alcohol as it contains a relatively high content of acetylcholine (a substance contained in neurons that play a key role in remembering things) that helps create a surface layer in the stomach and increases the alcohol absorption of the body.
Caviar throughout the ages
The English term “Caviar” comes from the Turkish “khayyar” or the Persian word “chay-jar”, which roughly translates to “the cake of power” or “the piece of power”.
In medieval times, King Edward II made sturgeon “the royal fish” and asked people to tribute it to him if they caught it. In China, Denmark and France, caviar was approved by the royal family and you needed a special permission to harvest it. Even in Russia and Hungary, fishing sturgeon requires permission. King Czar Nicholas II and the Russian nobility liked caviar from Danube River so much that the fish became almost extinct as nearly 11 tons of caviar were eaten every year.
In the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt, people realised the value of caviar. Archaeological objects engraved with the image of the fish indicate this.
Ancient Greeks also imported caviar from the Black Sea. Greek writers in their literary works praised the taste and healing abilities of sturgeon.
In the boom period of caviar, sturgeons from the US were transported to Europe by sea and then imported back to the US branded “Russian Caviar” as it is considered the most luxurious one. In 1900, Pennsylvania released a report indicating an estimated 90% of Russian caviar sold in Europe came from the US. The consequence of the boom of American caviar in the early 1900s was sturgeons being in danger of extinction. The shortage spiked a taste for caviar, but this time caviar labelled Russian actually came from Russia. During the 1960s, the price of caviar was so high that people once again looked for domestic sources of caviar.
Nowadays, due to environmental pollution and excessive fishing, sturgeon is in danger of extinction once again and is on the Red List and protected by CITES. Countries around the Caspian Sea have built many preservation centres to preserve sturgeon and then release them back to the nature. Natural exploitation of sturgeon is banned and the fish can only be offered to the market from industrial fish farms.
In the West, Caviar is a luxury food, sold at a relatively high price. Caviar is also called “The black jewel” on the dinner table and is a symbol of luxury and wealth. Economic experts say that more than 95% of people around the world will not be able to afford to try Caviar in their lifetime. This figure may increase since natural sturgeon is becoming more and more rare.
How to enjoy Caviar and what to drink with it
Often served as an appetizer, Caviar is eaten in small quantities, just enough to make diners get a taste of the unforgettable flavour. Traditionally, Caviar is served cold in crystal jars on large ice trays. Using cutlery made of pearl or nacre to enjoy Caviar aids wonderfully sophisticated taste of Caviar. Cutlery made of metals (except gold) spoil the good taste of Caviar.
Enjoying Caviar with toasted bread or unsalted crackers and a light drink is also wonderful. Although this simple dish may no get the approval of all people, nothing can deprive the perfect Caviar of its taste. Other times it is served with a slice of lemon, sour cream, Crème Frâiche, boiled eggs with the white and yolk separated and ground onion. The above ingredients bring out the best even in Caviar of lower quality.
Don’t get greedy when you are served Caviar as an appetizer no matter how ecstatic you are about the excellent taste of the dish. You will be considered clumsy and un-gourmet if you eat more than 2 ounces (about 50 grams) or two spoons of Caviar.
Champagne is an excellent drink to serve with Caviar, but gourmets in Russia – the country considered the home of Caviar – often order frozen vodka instead. Beluga Vodka is considered the most perfect drink to accompany Caviar.
For further information on Caviar, visit www.vi.caviardeduc.com (Vietnam’s sturgeon group).
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