FYI: Caviar Is Cool Again

Have you ever eaten caviar? I tried it once when I was nannying for a Russian family. We were celebrating something important, I don’t remember what, and did shots of vodka and chased with buttered bread with caviar on it. I was 22 and I think wanted to die? Gag? Scream? Cry? But what do I know?

Apparently nothing, because caviar is on the RISE. Businessweek reports that “American Caviar No Longer Draws Sneers.” Before I read this I am not sure how I would have guessed caviar was begotten. Did someone chase around a pregnant fish holding a butterfly net with very fine mesh? Maybe in the Caspian Sea, but wild caviar fishing has been banned there since 2005. This is America though, and we are farming caviar now. It is a very expensive enterprise but has increased supply so much that the price of caviar per pound has been cut in half. PARTY TIME. For us, not these poor lady fish:

Today each female sturgeon is implanted with a microchip encrypted with its genetic information, which the company uses to determine the top 35 percent of the herd that will yield the most and best-quality eggs. The fish are housed in fiberglass and cement tanks, segregated by size, age, and sex. A computer system monitors each tank for temperature and oxygen levels and operates a special underground filtration system. The system also releases nutrition-rich feeding pellets at timed intervals. Females are artificially fertilized to breed new generations of sturgeon.

Although it’s potentially lucrative — a kilo of Sterling’s top-grade caviar, Imperial, is priced at $3,550 on the company’s website — caviar farming is capital-intensive. “You need $20 million investment minimum to be able to do anything,” says Shaoching Bishop, Sterling’s managing director and a former Goldman Sachs analyst. Then there are the costs of keeping an operation up and running. Bishop says the electricity bill at the Elverta farm is $20,000 a week.

I also noticed via, I’ll be honest, a few zoomed in photos on Instagram, that the new Russ and Daughters Cafe has caviar on the menu. Looks like you can order a half kilo of Osetra Gueldenstaedtii for $1,970. BOLD MOVE, R&D. I like it.

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