Like many luxuries, caviar began as a peasant dish. Fishing villages caught huge sturgeon as they migrated up Europe’s rivers to spawn. Every part of the fish was used, including their bellies full of dark, pearl-like eggs, salted to keep through the winter. Rich in proteins and healthy oils, caviar became an important staple and health tonic in the hardworking peasant’s diet. Caviar became prized as a national dish and comfort food amongst all classes in Eastern Europe where sturgeon thrived.
Caviar in Exile
After the Revolution, Russian nobles fled to Paris and brought their taste for caviar with them. Tragic, wealthy exiles consoling themselves with caviar became a staple of elegant dining rooms, and in Paris caviar transformed from a comfort food into something else. A simple dish of salted roe became romance and ruin, glamour and tragedy in gleaming beads.
Caviar’s saveur of tragedy would outlive the twentieth century. When the Soviet Union fell, organized crime slaughtered sturgeon en masse for their eggs. The world began to see something thought impossible in in a place so vast as the Caspian Sea—extinction.
While many simply watched the calamity unfold, a few daring souls set out to do something else long thought impossible—to grow caviar in captivity. Sturgeon don’t bear eggs until seven to ten years of age, and can be twelve feet long by that time. To raise ancient, enormous fish like sturgeon for a decade before knowing if you’ve succeeded or failed was a heroic feat.
But the gamble paid off. While many caviar houses won’t advertise it, most caviar today is from fish raised by humans. Reluctance to disclose origins may be a holdover from the days of fishing, when announcing your fishing spot was unthinkable. But today that secrecy can cover a host of troubles: poor farming practices like pollution, overcrowding, and poor fish health go unknown and unaddressed.
Farm to Table
Persephone is pleased to offer farm-to-table caviar. Raised sustainably in the United States, Persephone sources solely from farms that meet the following criteria:
-Top craftsmanship to ensure clean, pure caviar of impeccable quality.
-Treat and recycle water on-site to eliminate pollution.
-Fish have enough space for good health.
-No financial or leadership ties to organized crime & smuggling networks.