Overcoming Common Caviar Myths, Part II

Even if you’re a caviar fan, some of the caviar facts you think you know may actually be caviar myths. Well, here’s a little more caviar truth.

Even caviar devotees are afflicted by caviar myths. In their attempts to enjoy their expensive treat to the utmost, they’ve wrapped it around with ceremony, and with ceremony comes mythology. True caviar buffs would pale at the thought of scooping caviar out of the tin on a cracker, for example.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but that’s just a minor peccadillo, really. In Part I of this article, we revealed the truth behind some basic myths concerning caviar. Now we’ll take a look at a few caviar myths that even those who think they know caviar often get wrong.

Myth 4: The use of metallic utensils will ruin caviar’s flavor.

There’s no proof of this. Caviar myth would have you use a mother-of-pearl spoon to avoid ruining the flavor of the fish eggs, or, failing that, a spoon made of gold. But come on, now. Caviar comes from the producer in metal tins that are decanted into little glass jars by distributors.

And hey, even those little glass jars have metal lids, don’t they? Right. The only metal known to interact chemically with caviar is sterling silver, so do avoid using silverware. Now, let’s look at the real reason you should use mother-of-pearl or golden spoons: they’re expensive and traditional. Just like the caviar.

Myth 5: Caviar has always been considered a delicacy.

Another sticky caviar myth. Although it has been thought highly of since the 1700s or so, particularly by the Russian nobility, there was a time when fisherman were after sturgeon primarily for their meat, not the roe. Even then, the meat was considered a commoner’s food because sturgeon were so plentiful.

Nor was it a delicacy in the New World. The caviar boom didn’t really begin here until around 1900. Until then — and even much later, until caviar producers thought to look to American sturgeon fishermen for the roe — it was more likely to be pet food than human delicacy.

Myth 6: The bigger and paler the egg, the better.

No, and no. Both are caviar myths. Size has absolutely nothing to do with flavor. Beluga caviar, considered the cream of the crop, is both big and expensive — but it’s expensive because beluga caviar is rare and hard to get, and because beluga sturgeon produce the fewest eggs. Simple supply and demand.

Color doesn’t have much to do with flavor, either, especially since taste is, well, a matter of taste. The color actually has to do more with the fish’s diet, though it’s true that osetra caviar, which is considered one of the best-tasting kinds, is generally pale. Ironically, some companies charge more the darker the caviar is.

What’s most important is what you like, so don’t worry about what size your favorite caviar is, or what color it should be. Just avoid any artificial coloring, which will certainly alter the flavor, and don’t let these caviar myths detract from your enjoyment of this salty treat.