Caviar as a core food ingredient dates back to 1240 AD in Russia before it made its way into Europe as a food eaten by royalty in the 1600’s.
It was only in the 1900’s when Russia brought this luxe product onto the international market, with only one major competitor at the time being Iran’s 'Persian Caviar'.
Russia and Islam have many ties throughout history and caviar seems to be a major point where their gastronomy story meets.
In our modern day, sustainability and humane animal practices play a major role in the deciding factor of consumers around the world.
What we eat is often only decided by where and how the food product is produced - making caviar a perfect example of a food ingredient that needed to advance with society.
If the product does not advance with societal values and environmental changes, we eventually choose not to eat it, are unable due to environmental changes affecting production, or in some cases are legally prevented from purchasing inhumane food products.
Sturgeon fish are fascinating creatures, with the possibility to live more than 100 years in their natural habitat. A sturgeon's life-cycle is similar to salmon in that they spend their early years in freshwater and migrate to salt water to spawn. The main difference is that they continue living after spawning, where salmon die after procreation is complete.
The sturgeon is noted throughout history in folklore and mythology legends of many cultures including Germanic and Native American Indian.
The German folklore tale ‘Sturgeon’ dating back to 1152 at the convent of Shwartz-Reindorf tells a legend similar to that of Adam and Eve, featuring a male and female sturgeon and a moral warning that people must not eat the female sturgeon or, in brief it would bring very bad luck. Sure enough they ate the female sturgeon and the river dried up.
What makes Caviar production in our modern day different from traditional caviar extraction and production is the way the sturgeon grows and the way the roe (caviar) is extracted from the fish.
For caviar to be considered sustainable, the producer must either:
Grow the fish using aquaculture methods which produce a consistent amount of sturgeon to replace the females that are killed in the roe extraction process.
Extract the roe in a way that does not kill the female fish.
Regions of the world advancing in the production of sustainable Caviar through research, development and business practices are Azerbaijan, California, Italy, France, Germany and Japan.
In western Canada and other regions producing brown seaweeds we see the trend of 'Kelp Caviar' which can be considered sustainable as it is made from a renewable, secure food source (seaweed).
Kelp caviar comes in a variety of exciting colors and is often branded similar to traditional caviar tins and jars - making a perfect option for the vegan and vegetarian consumer.
The core consumer demographics who are eating this food product remain relatively the same, but in different settings as our technologies and trade patterns have advanced - on private yachts, private aviation, diplomatic gastronomy events while at the same time at home from Costco and Sams Club.
What is the best way to eat caviar?
One of the most famous and simple ways to eat caviar is on classic Blini’s (Russian pancake) with creme fraiche or salted butter, topped with caviar.
In Japan we see caviar atop many sushi and Sashimi courses, while in France it is often served on its own set in a bowl of ice with optional items such as white bread and lemon slices on the side.