There’s something fishy going on here

I had no idea that the United States was the largest producer of farmed Caspian-Sea-origin beluga caviar in the world!  The New York Post reports:

Caviar prices are plummeting — but if you want the best price, you might want to find a dealer.

. . .

Even if you don’t have a special connection, caviar is becoming more accessible than ever. Wholesale prices in the US have plunged more than 50 percent since 2012, from $850,000 per ton to $350,000 per ton last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

At the same time, US caviar consumption is up dramatically. Imports jumped to $17.8 million in 2018 from $7.6 million in 2014.

The democratization has been made possible partly by an increasing abundance of high-quality, farmed caviar from China, which accounts for about half of what was consumed by Americans last year, according to the US Census Bureau.

But it’s also because of American entrepreneurs like Mark Zaslavsky and Mark Gelman, who took extraordinary steps 16 years ago — flying live, rabbi-blessed Caspian Sea sturgeon over from Europe, sloshing in tanks — to set up a domestic farm that has since become wildly productive.

Indeed, Zaslavsky and Gelman say their Florida-based Sturgeon Aquafarms is now the world’s largest Beluga farm, with more Beluga sturgeon (16,000) than in the entire Caspian Sea. (The farm just donated 160,000 fertilized eggs to the Caspian Sea — whose caviar was banned in the US in 2005 over extinction fears — to help with re-population.) Their Marky’s Caviar shop at 1067 Madison Ave. offers caviar from the aquafarm, in addition to high quality farmed caviar from around the world — and a nightly eight-course tasting menu via Eleven Madison Park alumnus Chef Buddha Lo.

For New Yorkers dining out, the cheapest option at Midtown mecca Petrossian is now a 30-gram tin of “Royal Transmontanus” caviar from California that sells for $54 — down from $77 last year, says Serguei Aver, general manager at the Petrossian Boutique & Cafe at 911 7th Ave.

. . .

At the higher end, Tsukimi created a take on scrambled eggs with caviar and sea urchin as part of its $195 per person tasting menu. Industry Kitchen even has a $2,000 caviar pizza, with Stilton cheese, foie gras, truffles and 24-karat gold leaves that has to be ordered 48 hours in advance.

. . .

When the Soviet Union fell, the Russian mob took over much of the caviar trade and used profits to help fuel arms, drug and human trafficking deals, experts say.

The number of Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon plunged from 26,000 in the 1960s to 2,800 in the 1990s.

There’s more at the link.

(Reading that, I can’t help thinking of the verse, “There was fish, fish, in a little dish, in the store, in the store…”  How many of you remember “The Quartermaster’s Store“?  I learned the unexpurgated military version, which for obvious reasons I won’t reproduce here!)

A caviar pizza for $2,000?  Some people sure have more money than sense!  I’m amazed at what people will pay for what are basically nothing more than fish eggs.  I’m sure they’ll roe the expense later!

Peter

4 comments

  1. I’ve had caviar, and while I didn’t hate it, it didn’t live up to the hype. Just grill the fish Cajun style, I’ll eat that.

  2. I’m with NFO and Dave. It’s not bad and if somebody else is paying, I’ll have a couple triangles of toast with caviar and wash it down with Dom Perignon. But my taste preferences go elsewhere.

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