Caviar, for those who can hold their appetites in check, is a delicate enjoyment meant more for the palate than the stomach. It's considered poor manners to eat more than just a couple of spoonfuls in the company of others. Fortunately, when it comes to nutritional content, there's a lot packed into each bite -- just one spoonful of caviar will supply your daily requirement of Vitamin B12.
Caviar also is a high-protein food with less than three grams fat in each tablespoon. It's an excellent source of amino acids, omega-3s, vitamin D, iron, magnesium and selenium. However, caviar is high in both sodium and cholesterol, and, there are food-borne illness risks inherent with consuming raw foods. Pregnant women in particular should avoid eating caviar that isn't pasteurized because of the pathogen Listeria.
Whether pasteurized or fresh, caviar should be chilled when served. For those who like to sup their caviar with traditional savoir-faire, caviar should be oh-so-carefully ladled into a small dish nestled on a bed of crushed ice. If the caviar's brand is brag-worthy, its lid -- with the name clearly showing -- may be displayed nearby.
For purists, caviar is best eaten solo. Using a specially designed spoon made of bone, crystal or mother-of-pearl (metal spoons are believed to alter caviar's taste), the caviar berries are gently lifted from their dish in a vertical motion and savored without interruption from other ingredients.
Caviar is also often served with crisp, freshly buttered toast points. The buttered triangles, topped with salty caviar and a dollop of crème fraiche, create a festival of flavors -- the taste is at once salty and sweet, yet tangy and delicate.
Blini, thin buckwheat pancakes of Russian origin, are topped with a spoonful of caviar and a dot of sour cream and then loosely rolled into a tube. In some Eastern European countries, caviar is eaten with small steamed potatoes. And, to stretch its quantities, restaurants often serve caviar with chopped red onions, thin slivers of hard-boiled eggs and sour cream, all garnished with parsley.
Whether fresh or pasteurized, caviar leftovers will keep only for a day or two. In the meantime, place the caviar into its original container, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and then replace the lid. Place it in the coldest part of your refrigerator, but pack the caviar container in ice if the fridge doesn't maintain a temperature below 32 degrees.
As caviar-lovers will attest, however, the best possible way to store uneaten caviar is by practicing strict avoidance. In other words, buy as much as you need for the moment and indulge until the last voluptuous orb has been devoured -- preferably off the back of your hand where the warmth liberates each pearl's fragrance. After all, caviar's historical mystique is as satisfying to the mouth as it is to the mind.
To learn more about caviar, see the links on the following page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- "Caviar Rules." The New York Times, March 3, 1993.
- "Caviar." The New York Times, March 3, 1993.
- "Vegetarian Caviar Food fit for a Pauper." The Calgary Herald, Aug. 18, 2008. http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/calgarybusiness/story.html?id=6209a57e-dc72-4670-89b1-90ec35d7ad76
- "What a Fish!" The New York Times, March 3, 1993.
- Bennett, Vanora. The Taste of Dreams: An Obsession with Russia and Caviar. Headline Books, 2003
- Carey, Richard Adams. The Philosopher Fish: Sturgeon, Caviar and the Geography of Desire. Counterpoint, 2005
- Caviar Emptor. http://www.caviaremptor.org/index.html
- CITES.org. "Caspian Sea States to Resume Caviar Trade." http://www.cites.org/eng/news/press/2002/020306_caviar_resumption.shtml
- Coyle, L. Patrick, ed. The World Encyclopedia of Food. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1982.
- Dean, Cornelia. "U.S. Broadens Ban on Caviar To Include the Black Sea Basin." The New York Times. Oct. 29, 2005. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9805EFD81E3FF93AA15753C1A9639C8B63
- Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. Brussels: Customs Cooperation Council, 2002.
- Goetz, Philip W., ed. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1986.
- Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, 2006. Washington DC: United States International Trade Commission, 2006.
- Kozlova, Marina. "Despite the Lifting of Ban, Caviar Problems Far from Over." Asia Water Wire. April 24, 2009. http://www.asiawaterwire.net/node/527
- Lapenkova, Marina. "Russian Caviar Risks Extinction." Cosmos Magazine. May 10, 2006. http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/112/russian-caviar-risks-extinction
- Le Goff, Olivier. The World of Caviar. Chartwell, 1999.
- Lewis, Flora. "The Black Market in Iranian Caviar." The New York Times, January 23, 1980.
- Mannino, Brynn. "Top 10 Innovative Ice Cream Flavors." Woman's Day. June 10, 2009. http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Food/Top-10-Innovative-Ice-Cream-Flavors.html
- Pew Trusts. "U.S. Government Acknowledges Beluga Sturgeon 'Threatened with Extinction' But Takes No Action to Protect the Fish." April 20, 2004. http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=22870
- Philippe Faur. http://www.philippefaur.com/product_info.php?cPath=5&products_id=77&florsid=5360e184eab99baf064c68fff6160bcf
- Podger, Corinne. "Beluga caviar faces U.S. ban." BBC, Aug. 14, 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2193282.stm
- Science Daily. "Beluga Sturgeon Threatened with Extinction, Yet Caviar Quota Remain Unchanged." March 6, 2008. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304093748.htm
- Susie Boeckmann and Natalie Rebeiz-Nielson,Caviar. Octopus, 2002
- Swengel, Andrea Lynn. Discovering Caviar. Campbell and Lewis, 2008
- U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. "What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About Caviar." http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/trade/legal/informed_compliance_pubs/icp011.ctt/icp011.pdf
- Van Loon, Jeremy and Morales, Alex. "Shark-Fin Soup, Over-fishing Threaten Predators with Extinction."