Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It's about time

The export of sturgeon caviar has been halted as of today, per the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. According to the New York Times,
The export suspension covers all the principal areas that still export the fish or their eggs, including the Caspian Sea, Siberia's Amur River, and the Black Sea and lower Danube River. It applies to 10 nations that still actively fish and export sturgeon products: Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, Serbia-Montenegro, Turkmenistan and Ukraine, the convention said.
The demand still remains, however, as the sellers have long marketed caviar as a luxurious, sophisticated food eaten by the wealthy and worldly. For example, here's some very recent text from Williams-Sonoma:
Long regarded as a luxury, the world’s finest caviar comes from sturgeon fished from the Caspian Sea. The Osetra variety, also known as ossetra or oscetra, has a medium-size gray-brown grain with a complex, fruity quality. Our Osetra caviar represents the highest grade, Premier Select, hand picked for uniformity of grain size, color, firmness and texture. Refrigerated, caviar stays fresh for four weeks unopened, three days opened. A Williams-Sonoma exclusive.
There is even an elaborate etiquette to eating these fish eggs. So munch on this bit o' salty crunchiness, and become an instant sophisticate? Silliness. Ah--but very clever manipulation, to which, alas, the public is susceptible.

Yet this same desire to keep eating caviar may be what saves the sturgeon. The U.S. accounts for 60% of all demand for beluga caviar, according to Caviar Emptor (motto: let the connoisseur beware). The U.S. Fish & WIldlife Service banned the import of beluga sturgeon caviar at the end of October 2005, so the fish may yet be saved. And caviar lovers won't have to do without: there's always American caviar, highly praised by some skookum chefs.

1 comment:

Jill Homer said...

I came here while looking for information on an author who is coming to town. Very interesting idea!