Caviar is considered to be one of the most opulent delicacies in the world, but is it more expensive than gold?
Gram for gram, caviar is not more expensive than gold, except for a few unique and rare examples. Reportedly, some of the finest caviar can cost around thirty-four dollars a gram, while gold sits at around fifty-five to sixty dollars a gram.
Read on to learn more about caviar, its value, and why it’s so appreciated in the culinary world.
The Black Gold
Caviar is one of the oldest and finest delicacies on the planet, having been consumed for well over two thousand years. It has been appreciated by the Greeks, medieval English kings, and Persian royalty.
Although the exclusivity has faded somewhat in recent years, there was a time when caviar was reserved only for the elite and the wealthy. For example, King Edward II of England declared in 1324 that caviar-producing fish were ‘royal fish’, and were the property of the monarchy.
Those particular fish are known as ‘sturgeon’, and while every fish produces eggs, or ‘roe’, it’s the roe taken from the sturgeon that is true caviar. You can purchase roe from fish such as salmon, but it isn’t classed as caviar.
The sturgeon is by no means an uncommon fish, being comprised of twenty-seven individual species and being found all around the Northern hemisphere. They can occur anywhere from California to British Columbia, and from China to North Italy.
Sturgeon are considerably large fish, growing up to around eighteen feet in length with a maximum weight of around four thousand pounds. There are few fish that live for as long as sturgeon, as their lifespan can exceed a century.
They start producing roe when they’re around twenty years old, and they start producing it in earnest. The female sturgeon can carry anything from one hundred thousand to three million eggs in one ‘cycle’.
These eggs are the ‘black gold’ that caviar farmers seek. They’re the expensive, exclusive, and sought-after delicacy that has been enjoyed for millennia.
Harvesting them is simple – the fish is caught, gutted, and the eggs stripped from the flesh. They’re packed, distributed, and consumed, ideally within a matter of days, owing to the high perishability of caviar.
Expensive Way To Eat
Although caviar isn’t by any means rare, it’s still quite often considered to be dramatically expensive. However, that tends to apply only to the finest variants, and ‘common’ farmed caviar won’t ever break the bank.
As with most foods, you get what you pay for, and if you want the best and most cherished caviar, you’ll need to spend a few dollars. Well, a few hundred dollars that is, at the very least.
According to Guinness World Records, the most expensive caviar is ‘Almas’ caviar, taken from a considerably rarer type of sturgeon. The Beluga sturgeon produces the finest caviar, valued at more than thirty-four thousand dollars per kilo.
While that comes substantially close to the value of gold, it doesn’t quite beat it. That sum would divide down to around thirty-four dollars per gram, while gold is valued between fifty-five and sixty dollars per gram.
However, it’s still intensely expensive for something that is simply eaten. It’s the sheer image of opulence that caviar conjures up that has aided it in retaining such a high value over the years.
In fact, just that simple consumption is everything but simple, with traditions being strong even today. According to history, caviar should be eaten in a very specific way, which might actually surprise you.
You’re supposed to eat caviar straight off the skin of your hand, between your pointer finger and your thumb. Although most people will use a fine spoon or top a toast or blini with caviar, this is allegedly the intended way to consume it.
The roe – or caviar – should then be ‘swilled’ around the mouth slowly, before popping the eggs between your teeth and savoring the flavor within. That taste shouldn’t be overly fishy but instead, have a mild fish-like taste and saltiness.
It’s said to taste like the ocean, which doesn’t actually sound like an overly enticing premise. However, it must be a win considering how popular it remains, even today.
You can pick up some caviar from your local supermarket, but bear in mind what we’ve said about getting what you pay for. Although, if you’re just looking for an entry-level sample, you’ll only be paying a few dollars, which is fine.