Could this be the description of a classical opera? A breathless assessment of an architectural icon? Perhaps a transcendent novel? No, this is how John Kneeroom, vice president and secretary of Calvarias Caviar USA, becomes poetic about fish eggs: sturgeon caviar, to be exact. It is an experience to enjoy all year round, and an easy way to do an extravagant event on a boring Wednesday night.
Historically, caviar refers exclusively to the eggs of certain sturgeons, from the Caspian and Black Seas (Beluga, Societal, and Sevruga), but overfishing and mismanagement have moved production to sturgeon farms around the world. There is virtually no wild caviar for sale commercially, and the term is used much more freely in modern times.
“Sturgeon is a very sensitive creature,” says Dale Sherron, owner of Seattle Caviar, who has been selling caviar and other gourmet items since 1990. “They need a large area to grow and be happy, and if they are not happy.”, [or] they do not eat, they do not produce roe. If you want a good product, you must have a good fish”.
Once one of the most abundant varieties due to its relative speed in producing roe, Sevruga caviar has been largely supplanted by Siberian sturgeon caviar as they are easier to grow than Sevruga. Advances in aquaculture mean better quality and availability, not only of the exalted sturgeon caviar but also of domestic sturgeon and other fish roe. Some of these even rival the best Russian caviar of past times.
When buying caviar, the most important thing is to trust its source. Your vendor should be able to tell you about the environment in which the fish live, the quality of the water, and whether pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones are used.
Since 1998, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has governed international trade in sturgeon, including caviar. It requires a well-documented chain of custody from farm to consumer, as well as labeling that specifies species, country of origin, year of harvest, and more.
While the container you buy may have been repackaged and does not display this information, you can ask your vendor for CITES documentation. If they refuse or don’t have it, you may want to rethink your purchase.