July 18th is National Caviar Day, a day to celebrate the pricey, salty delicacy. Caviar is processed, salted fish roe, usually from sturgeon, whitefish, or salmon. Historically, it was cultivated by stunning a fish and removing its ovaries, but today more humane procedures allow the fish to stay alive and keep producing the costly eggs. While the most expensive caviar consists of tiny black roe from sturgeon native to the Caspian Sea, many other options are available, including yellow, orange, and red caviar from fish across the world.
Until today, my only experience with roe consisted of the tiny eggs sometimes visible on certain sushi rolls. I love sushi, and with enough seaweed, sushi rice, and soy sauce, it’s easy enough to forget that I might be eating fish eggs. And that’s kind of a blessing because, even though roe tastes pretty good on sushi, something about it is creepy to me — something in the same vein as the feeling I get from anchovies. When I really think about consuming fish eggs, I’m immediately reminded of Tom Hanks eating caviar in the classic movie Big.
Concentrating on my love of sushi, I approached today with an open mind. Chris, as a seafood lover, was optimistic as well. To prepare for today’s event, last weekend we went shopping at the “amusement park of grocery stores”, Wegmans. We were surprised to find that there were several varieties of caviar for sale. The in-stock caviar ranged in price from $10 a jar to $50, and special order varieties reached the mind-boggling price of $250 a jar! We opted for a wallet-friendly $10 jar of medium-sized orange roe from a Flying Fish, and picked up a few other groceries to complete a potato, cheese, and caviar recipe we’d found on the store’s website.
Chris did the honors this evening, cooking and seasoning the potatoes before I helped him garnish them with caviar and Creme Fraiche. The meal looked promising, and the first few slices were salty, but not unpleasant. But as we continued eating, the food became fishier and fishier tasting. And the unexpected brittleness of the roe as it snapped and popped in our teeth was a bit off-putting. By the time we’d eaten half (and decided to throw out the rest) we were convinced that the potatoes and Creme Fraiche would have made an excellent pair. But next time we’ll leave the roe in the fish.
Tomorrow we’ll be cleansing our palates with something we know we’ll like — it’s National Daiquiri Day!