Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Is it Khaviar or Cavier or Caviar or...
The origin of the word of the word 'caviar' is uncertain, as most word origins are. It came into English as caviary in the mid 16th century. Shakespeare's Hamlet says of a play that it "pleased not the million, twas caviary to the general", meaning that it was wasted on the masses. So caviar had elitist connotations from the start, at least in the West.
The English word was probably derived from the Italian caviale (earlier caviaro) or French caviar, probably ultimately from medieval Greek khaviari. It is related to the Persian word khag-avar which means "the roe-generator", and which is used to refer both to the sturgeon and to the roe itself.
The Russian word is ikra, which refers to roe in general, including that of the sturgeon. The word 'roe' is from the Middle Dutch word roge. Australians offer spell it cavier, while many European cultures continue to spell caviar with a K, hence khaviar.
at 4:06 PM