Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Short History of Caviar

The word caviar originates from the Turkish khavyar, which means "bearing eggs." Historically, the term caviar referred to the processed roe of the three prominent sturgeon fish found in the Caspian Sea: Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga. Today, roe processed from salmon, whitefish, paddlefish, and sturgeon from around the world is also referred to as caviar.
Caviar was once reserved strictly for royalty. Yet surprisingly enough, in America during the early nineteenth century, caviar was routinely served during free lunches in saloons. The salty flavor encouraged thirst and enhanced beer sales. At that time, America's waters were abundant with sturgeon, a resource that German immigrant Henry Schacht took advantage of in 1873 when he set up a business exporting caviar to Europe for the seemingly high price of one dollar per pound. Other entrepreneurs soon followed, and by the end of the nineteenth century, the U.S. was the largest exporter of caviar in the world.

As a result of the U.S. caviar boom of the early 1900's, sturgeon was over-fished nearly to the point of extinction. Since that time, considerable measures have been undertaken by all involved in the caviar industry to ensure the quality and sustainability of sturgeon. And there you have it! Enjoy the weekend!