A History of Caviar
A History of Caviar

All about caviar > A long history

In collaboration with Petrossian

The etymology of the word "caviar" is debated. It may come from the Greek "avyron" (egg), or Turkish "khaviar," meaning fish roe.

While sturgeon was known to the seafaring peoples of the ancient world - the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Romans - the caviar made from this fish's roe was not mentioned until the 9th century.

The Persians called caviar "cake of power," believing it increased their strength and endurance. They were the first to consume sturgeon eggs, taking advantage of the incredible resources of the Caspian Sea and the rivers flowing into it. Following the great trading routes of Central Europe, caviar appeared at the Russian court, where the czars sealed its fame by serving it at imperial banquets. Eventually interest in caviar spread to other European countries while retaining its exalted aristocratic associations.

Over time, more popular forms of caviar would appear. In the United States in the late 19th century, sturgeon eggs were sold in saloons to make patrons thirstier. American production at the time was estimated at 75 tons per year. Sturgeon was fished in the Hudson River and was known as "Albany Beef," since it was an abundant and inexpensive source of food for poor immigrants. Sturgeon harvesting was also particularly intensive in the Gironde, North Sea and Baltic Sea. Frivolous prices led to a glut of low-quality caviar.

It was in Paris during the Roaring Twenties that caviar regained its noble reputation. With the arrival of exiled Russian royalty, intellectuals and aristocrats fleeing the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, with the assistance of the Petrossian house, the art of caviar was handed down to the world's most exalted tables, becoming a symbol of luxury and an indispensable ingredient for success.  

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