Caviar

Caviar

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Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury
Luxury good
Luxury goods are products and services that are not considered essential and associated with affluence.The concept of luxury has been present in various forms since the beginning of civilization. Its role was just as important in ancient western and eastern empires as it is in modern societies...

 delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon
Sturgeon
Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, including the genera Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus and Pseudoscaphirhynchus. The term includes over 20 species commonly referred to as sturgeon and several closely related species that have distinct common...

 roe
Roe
Roe or hard roe is the fully ripe internal egg masses in the ovaries, or the released external egg masses of fish and certain marine animals, such as shrimp, scallop and sea urchins...

. The roe can be "fresh" (non-pasteurized) or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value.

Traditionally the designation caviar is only used for sturgeon roe from the wild sturgeon species living in the Caspian
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 and Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 (Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga caviars). These caviar varieties, according to their quality (based on flavour, size, consistency and colour) can reach (February 2009) prices between € 6,000 and € 12,000 per kilo, and are associated with gourmet
Gourmet
Gourmet is a cultural ideal associated with the culinary arts of fine food and drink, or haute cuisine, which is characterised by elaborate preparations and presentations of large meals of small, often quite rich courses...

 and Haute cuisine
Haute cuisine
Haute cuisine or grande cuisine was characterised by French cuisine in elaborate preparations and presentations served in small and numerous courses that were produced by large and hierarchical staffs at the grand restaurants and hotels of Europe.The 17th century chef and writer La Varenne...

 environments.

Depending on specific national laws, the name caviar may also be used to describe the roe of other fish
Fish (food)
Fish is a food consumed by many species, including humans. The word "fish" refers to both the animal and to the food prepared from it. Fish has been an important source of protein for humans throughout recorded history.-Terminology:...

 such as salmon, steelhead, trout, lumpfish, whitefish, and other species of sturgeon. The term is also used to describe dishes that are perceived to resemble caviar, such as "eggplant caviar" (made from eggplant / aubergine) and "Texas caviar" (made from black-eyed peas).

According to the United Nations'
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

, roe from any fish not belonging to the Acipenseriformes
Acipenseriformes
Acipenseriformes are an order of primitive ray-finned fishes that includes the sturgeons and paddlefishes, as well as some extinct families.Notable characteristics of Acipenseriformes include:* Cartilaginous endoskeleton* Lack of vertebral centrum...

 species (including Acipenseridae, or sturgeon stricto sensu, and Polyodontidae or paddlefish) are not caviar, but "substitutes of caviar". This position is also adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

, the United States Customs Service
United States Customs Service
Until March 2003, the United States Customs Service was an agency of the U.S. federal government that collected import tariffs and performed other selected border security duties.Before it was rolled into form part of the U.S...

, and the Republic of France.

Caviar is commercially marketed worldwide as a delicacy and is eaten as a garnish or a spread; for example, with hors d'œuvres.

Varieties


Caviar is simply sieved and lightly salted Sturgeon roe. The four main types of caviar are Beluga
Beluga caviar
Beluga caviar is caviar consisting of the roe of the beluga sturgeon Huso huso. It is found primarily in the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest salt-water lake, which is bordered by Iran and the former Soviet socialist republics of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan. It can also be...

, Sterlet
Sterlet
The sterlet is a common Eurasian species of sturgeon, one of the smaller species of sturgeon. It is a common domestic species in the UK and Europe and an angling species all over the world...

, Ossetra
Ossetra
Ossetra caviar, one of the most prized and expensive types of caviar available today , comes from the Ossetra sturgeon , weighing 50-400 pounds and living up to 50 years...

, and Sevruga
Sevruga
Sevruga is one of the highest priced varieties of caviar, eclipsed in cost only by the Beluga and Ossetra varieties. It is harvested from the Sevruga sturgeon native to the Caspian Sea, and may be distinguished from its more expensive cousins by the size of the eggs, which are generally smaller....

. The rarest and costliest is from the beluga sturgeon that swim in the Caspian Sea, which is bordered by Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Wild caviar production has now survived only in Azerbaijan and Iran as Russia maintains a self-imposed ban on caviar trade from wild sturgeon. Beluga caviar is prized for its soft, extremely large (pea-size) eggs. It can range in color from pale silver-gray to black. It is followed by the small golden sterlet
Sterlet
The sterlet is a common Eurasian species of sturgeon, one of the smaller species of sturgeon. It is a common domestic species in the UK and Europe and an angling species all over the world...

 caviar which is rare and was once reserved for Russian czars, Iranian shahs and Austrian emperors. Next in quality is the medium-sized, gray to brownish osetra (ossetra), and the last in the quality ranking is smaller, gray sevruga caviar.

Caviar bearing the word malossol on its label indicates that the roe is preserved with a minimum amount of salt, malossol being the Russian for "little salt." Caviar is extremely perishable and must be refrigerated immediately until consumption. Pasteurized caviar is roe that has been partially cooked, thereby giving the eggs a slightly different texture. It is less perishable and may not require refrigeration before opening. Pressed caviar is composed of damaged or fragile eggs and can be a combination of several different roes. It is specially treated, salted, and pressed. Information on how to handle purchased caviar can be found on the label. Although a spoonful of caviar supplies the adult daily requirement of vitamin B-12 it is also high in cholesterol and salt.

The caviar of the sturgeon is the most expensive. Currently, dwindling fishing yields as a result of overfishing
Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans....

 and pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

 have resulted in the creation of less costly, though popular, caviar-quality roe alternatives from the whitefish
Coregonus
Coregonus is a diverse genus of fish in the salmon family . The type species is the common whitefish . The Coregonus species are known as whitefishes...

 and the North Atlantic salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

. The harvest and sale of black caviar (other than for use in scientific research) was banned in Russia in 2007 but resumed in 2010, limited to 150 kg (330 lbs) (see below).

Other popular and much less expensive types of roe, sometimes presented as caviar, include lumpfish caviar (tiny, hard, artificially coloured black or red eggs), whitefish
Whitefish
Whitefish or white fish may refer to:In fishing terminology:* Whitefish , a fisheries term referring to the flesh of many types of fishIn fish species:...

 caviar (also called American Golden) with its small yellow-gold eggs and salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

 or red caviar (medium-size, pale orange to deep red eggs). Carp
Carp
Carp are various species of oily freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. The cypriniformes are traditionally grouped with the Characiformes, Siluriformes and Gymnotiformes to create the superorder Ostariophysi, since these groups have certain...

 caviar is becoming increasingly popular in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 due to carp's ability to lay millions of eggs a year, which makes it abundant and cheap.

Ecology



In the early 1900s, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 were the major caviar suppliers to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

; they harvested roe from the lake sturgeon
Lake sturgeon
The lake sturgeon is a North American temperate freshwater fish, one of about 20 species of sturgeon. Like other sturgeons, this species is an evolutionarily ancient bottomfeeder with a partly cartilaginous skeleton and skin bearing rows of bony plates...

 in the North American midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

, and from the Shortnose sturgeon
Shortnose sturgeon
The shortnose sturgeon is a small North American sturgeon which can be found in 16 to 19 large river and estuary systems along the Atlantic seaboard from the Saint John River in New Brunswick, Canada, to the St. Johns River in Florida, United States.National Marine Fisheries Service. 1998...

 and the Atlantic sturgeon
Atlantic sturgeon
The Atlantic sturgeon is a member of the Acipenseridae family and is among one of the oldest fish species in the world. Its range extends from New Brunswick, Canada to the eastern coast of Florida. It was in great abundance when the first settlers came to America, but has since declined due to...

 spawning in the rivers of the Eastern coast of the United States. Today the Shortnose sturgeon is rated Vulnerable in the IUCN
World Conservation Union
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources is an international organization dedicated to finding "pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges." The organization publishes the IUCN Red List, compiling information from a network of...

 Red List
IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , founded in 1963, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is the world's main authority on the conservation status of species...

 of endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 and rated Endangered per the U.S. Endangered Species Act
Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is one of the dozens of United States environmental laws passed in the 1970s. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973, it was designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and...

.

In Spain, a fish farm called Caviar de Riofrio has begun to produce organic caviar. The company raises sturgeon in such a way that it has earned an organic certification
Organic certification
Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, [food] processors, retailers and restaurants.Requirements vary...

.

Current aquaculture
Aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

 of sturgeon is an economically viable means of sustainable, commercial caviar production, especially in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

, the Middle East and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. Hackleback caviar is a popular, inexpensive product of this industry. Paddlefish
Paddlefish
Paddlefish are primitive Chondrostean ray-finned fishes. The paddlefish can be distinguished by its large mouth and its elongated, spatula-like snout, called a rostrum, which is longer than the rest of the head...

, a sturgeon cousin, is also farmed in increasing numbers.

Recently, the amount of allowed wild fish harvesting has been decreased, consequently increasing caviar prices. In September 2005, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is a federal government agency within the United States Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats...

 banned the import of Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 Beluga caviar
Beluga caviar
Beluga caviar is caviar consisting of the roe of the beluga sturgeon Huso huso. It is found primarily in the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest salt-water lake, which is bordered by Iran and the former Soviet socialist republics of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan. It can also be...

, to protect the endangered Beluga sturgeon
Beluga sturgeon
The beluga or European sturgeon is a species of anadromous fish in the sturgeon family of order Acipenseriformes. It is found primarily in the Caspian and Black Sea basins, and occasionally in the Adriatic Sea...

; a month later, the ban included Beluga caviar from the entire Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 basin. In January 2006, CITES
Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna
CITES is a multilateral treaty, drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature...

, the convention for trade in endangered species, announced they were "unable to approve the [caviar] export quotas" for 2006 from wild fish stocks. In January 2007, this ban was partly lifted, allowing the sale of 96 tons of caviar, 15% below the official 2005 level. In July 2010, Russia and some other CIS
CIS
CIS usually refers to the Commonwealth of Independent States, a modern political entity consisting of eleven former Soviet Union republics.The acronym CIS may also refer to:-Organizations:...

 countries agreed to restart the export of caviar. The 2010 quotas allow for the export of three tonnes of beluga, 17 tonnes of sevruga and 27 tonnes of osetra. In September 2010, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 announced it would launch a state monopoly brand named Zhaik Balyk, after the Kazakh word for the Ural River
Ural River
The Ural or Jayıq/Zhayyq , known as Yaik before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan. It arises in the southern Ural Mountains and ends at the Caspian Sea. Its total length is 1,511 mi making it the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube...

. Under the CITES agreement, Kazakhstan has the right to produce 13 out of the 80 tonnes of sturgeon exports allowed up until February 28, 2011.

The Caspian Sea produces 90 percent of the world's caviar. Over-fishing and smuggling as well as pollution caused by sewage entry into the Caspian Sea have considerably reduced the sea's sturgeon population.

Production



Commercial caviar production historically involved stunning the fish (usually by clubbing its head) and extracting the ovaries.

Nowadays most commercial fish farmers extract the caviar from the sturgeon surgically (compare caesarean section
Caesarean section
A Caesarean section, is a surgical procedure in which one or more incisions are made through a mother's abdomen and uterus to deliver one or more babies, or, rarely, to remove a dead fetus...

) and then stitch up the wound to keep the sturgeon alive, allowing the females to continue producing more roe during their lives.

Other farmers use a process called "stripping", which extracts the caviar from the fish without surgical intervention. This is the most humane approach towards fish that is presently available but not all farmers use it due to the lack of knowledge in this field.

Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 is the world's largest producer and exporter of caviar (annual exports of more than 300 metric tons), followed by Russia.

Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 has begun to produce farmed caviar and today is one of the largest producers of farmed caviar in the world.

At least two caviar farms exist in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 area. Caviar Court, in Dammam, Saudi Arabia opened in 2001 and began harvesting caviar in 2007. It was producing abbout five tons per year in 2011. A second, larger facility is expected to produce as much as 35 tons per year beginning in 2015. This farm, Royal Caviar Company, in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi , literally Father of Gazelle, is the capital and the second largest city of the United Arab Emirates in terms of population and the largest of the seven member emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western...

 was built by the Bin Salem Group.

Alternatives and imitation




In Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 and Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, a significantly cheaper version of caviar, made from mashed and smoked cod
Cod
Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

 roe (smörgåskaviar meaning "sandwich caviar"), is sold in tubes as a sandwich spread
Spread (food)
A spread is a food that is spread with a knife onto bread, crackers, or other bread products. Spreads are added to bread products to provide flavor and texture, and are an integral part of the dish, i.e. they should be distinguished from condiments, which are optional additions...

. When sold outside Scandinavia, the product is referred to as creamed smoked roe or in French as Caviar de Lysekil, named after the Swedish coastal town of Lysekil
Lysekil
Lysekil is a locality and the seat of Lysekil Municipality in Västra Götaland County, Sweden. It had 7,568 inhabitants in 2005.The picturesque coastal town of Lysekil is a major tourist destination during the Swedish summer period from June to the end of August.Lysekil is known as originator of the...

 from which this type of caviar may have originated.

An obvious sturgeon caviar imitation is Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 or German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 black coloured lumpsucker
Lumpsucker
Lumpsuckers or lumpfish are mostly small scorpaeniform marine fish of the family Cyclopteridae. They are found in the cold waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific oceans...

 caviar, which is sold throughout Europe in small glass jars. It can also be found coloured red. A more expensive sturgeon caviar alternative sold in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 is caviar from the vendace
Coregonus albula
The vendace, Coregonus albula, is a species of freshwater whitefish in the family Salmonidae. It is also known as the European cisco. It is found in lakes in northern Europe, especially Finland, Sweden, Russia and Estonia, and in some lakes of the United Kingdom, northern Germany and Poland...

. In Finland caviars from the burbot
Burbot
The burbot is the only gadiform fish inhabiting freshwaters. It is also known as mariah, the lawyer, and eelpout. It is closely related to the marine common ling and the cusk...

 and the common whitefish
Common whitefish
Coregonus lavaretus is a species of freshwater whitefish, in the family Salmonidae. It is the type species of its genus Coregonus.There are widely different concepts about the number of species in the genus Coregonus and the delimitation of the species Coregonus lavaretus.-Lavaret:In a narrow...

 are also sold.

In some eastern European countries, such as Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, "Ikra" also refers to an eggplant or squash spread which is often called "poor man's caviar." In England this is known as Aubergine Caviar. Similarly, "Texas caviar"—created by Helen Corbitt
Helen Corbitt
Helen Corbitt was an American chef and cookbook author. Corbitt was born in New York but spent nearly 40 years in Texas promoting gourmet cuisine with new and unusual flavor combinations and serving temperatures. She traveled widely searching for new culinary inspiration...

 in 1940—is a type of salad or dip made from whole black-eyed pea
Black-eyed pea
The black-eyed pea, also called black-eyed bean and chawalie or lobia in various languages in India and Pakistan, is a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized, edible bean. The bean mutates easily, giving rise to a number of varieties. The common commercial one is...

s. In the United Kingdom, "Yorkshire caviar" is a playful term for mushy peas
Mushy peas
Mushy peas are dried marrowfat peas which are first soaked overnight in water and then simmered with a little sugar and salt until they form a thick green lumpy soup. They are a traditional British accompaniment to fish and chips and sometimes mint is used as a flavouring...

, in reference to the stereotype of Yorkshiremen as dour folk who won't spend money on luxuries.

In the vegetarian foodstuffs market, algae-based imitation caviar is produced and sold as a caviar alternative.

Cultural



Given its high price in the West, caviar is associated with luxury and wealth. In Russia and other Eastern European cultures, though still expensive, caviar is commonly served at holiday feasts, weddings, and other festive occasions. In Russia, the concept generally includes both sturgeon roe (black caviar) and salmon roe (red caviar), the former not necessarily superior to the latter.

Sturgeon-derived caviar is not eaten by some Kosher
Kashrut
Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

-observant Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, because sturgeon possess ganoid scales instead of the usual ctenoid and cycloid scales (see Kosher animals
Kosher animals
Kosher animals are those that comply with regulations for Kosher food in Jewish religion. These food regulations form the main aspect of kashrut, and ultimately derive from various passages in the Torah...

). There is a discussion of its status in Halacha, since the scales will come off if soaked in lye; however, this does not apply to every roe-yielding fish species. Kosher-observant Conservative Jews
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

, on the other hand, may or may not observe these rules, as the responsa
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

are not clear on this point.

In Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 generally all sea or river animals such as fish are lawful and halal
Halal
Halal is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law...

, which applies to the sturgeon as well as its caviar. The Ja'fari
Ja'fari jurisprudence
Jaʿfarī school of thought, Ja`farite School, Jaʿfarī jurisprudence or Jaʿfarī Fiqh is the school of jurisprudence of most Shi'a Muslims, derived from the name of Jaʿfar as-Ṣādiq, the 6th Shi'a Imam...

 school of jurisprudence
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

 that predominates in Twelver Shia Islam, however, generally follows the same rule as the Jewish Kashrut (i.e. that seafood must have fins and scales) with the notable exception of shrimp
Shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

, and most observant Twelvers do not eat caviar; this is despite the fact that majority-Twelver Iran is a primary center of the sturgeon-fishing industry and the world's largest exporter of caviar.

In East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, "caviar" made from caplin roe may be found on sushi
Sushi
is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients . Neta and forms of sushi presentation vary, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is shari...

 and is often very affordable. Salmon roe is called "ikura" in Japanese, a derivative of the Russian, "ikra" (caviar).

Caviar is also seen as a common offering to the feline species in the ancient Egyptian Bast cult.

Nutritional information


1tbsp of caviar (16g) contains:
  • Calories :42
  • Fat(g): 2.86
  • Carbohydrates(g): 0.64
  • Fibers(g): 0
  • Protein(g): 3.94
  • Cholesterol(mg): 94

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