Why Caviar Has More Than One Definition

Of all the fishy foods in the world, there is no doubt at all which one is the greatest byword in luxury: caviar.

The sheer mention of the word conjures up posh dining by immensely rich people who can think nothing of devouring the delicacy, no doubt in exclusive restaurants along with lots of vintage champagne, or at a banquet for VIPs and royalty.

Yet here we are, selling caviar on our site. You might well ask: Is someone not telling the full story?

The answer is that there is more than one definition of caviar. After all, while there are a few species of fish that give birth to live young, most lay eggs, and a great many of these fall into the category of caviar.

When we think of caviar as the most expensive of delicacies, this applies to the roe (unfertilised eggs) of sturgeons. There are 29 species of this fish, which have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, and mostly live in the ocean and breed in rivers.

A few sub-species produce the roe most commonly thought of as caviar, especially the populations found in the rivers and lakes of southern Russia and Ukraine.

It used to be caught in the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake, but now come from farms after the species became endangered and both Russia and Iran agreed to stop fishing for them. These same concerns have led to Beluga caviar being banned in the US.

This is considered true caviar by those who harvest it and the stuff can cost between $50 and £3,000 (£2,170) an ounce. Suffice to say, if your caviar delivery consisted of this you would be getting your butler to bring it.

However, the fact is that whether one wants to call it “proper” or “true” caviar or not - and anyone whose version sells for that much has a lucrative reason to do so - the fact is that other versions are readily available at prices within reach of the average consumer.

Lumpfish caviar is commonly sold in supermarkets, while the version we offer comes from salmon. At £14.40 for 100 g, it will make your mouth water rather than your eyes. It can be coloured range, but the most common natural hues range from grey to black.

The taste is something else. It is distinctly fishy and somewhat salty, with a strong aftertaste, which means that not everyone will like it but those that do will absolutely love it. It is often recommended not to use metal utensils to serve it, but rather wood, as this supposedly detracts from the flavour. Often one of the best ways to eat it is simply on a cracker, or indeed buttered toast.

A great time to have caviar is at a party as a side dish, where it can not only provide another seafood option alongside dips and spreads such as a prawn cocktail, but also look like something extremely classy and posh, but won’t require a servant to bring it into the room.