The Missus told me on Thursday morning that we'll be having twenty-five people for cocktails on Friday evening at 6:30. The menu she requested was simple enough, a list of imported cheeses, deli crackers, red and white grapes, but when she asked for a half-kilo of Beluga Caviar my heart skipped a beat. (Thank God for over-night air!)
I can't seem to get it through her head that Beluga is banned as an endangered species. Instead, most everyone nowadays buys the next most highly prized substitute, Osetra caviar - which is simply a different Sturgeon species from the same Caspian Sea. (But seemingly in denial, it seems that rich people still refer to Osetra as Beluga.)
Anyhow, the price I paid Thursday afternoon online was $3,230 for a half kilo - a little over a pound - plus overnight delivery! Holy cow!
The expense of both Beluga and Osetra is simply the rarity, of course. The female has to be about twenty to twenty-five years old before she produces quality eggs. The older the Sturgeon, the better the eggs. And they don't kill the fish, you know, just harvest the eggs and put her gently back into the sea. (I've heard rumor about a hundred-year-old Sturgeon in the Caspian who's eggs are harvested only every two years, and bring a price of about $25,000 for a half-kilo!)
We've all seen cheap lump fish caviar that caterers sprinkle onto hors d'oeuvres, usually crackers with cream cheese and diced egg. But the real thing, Beluga and Osetra, is taken alone with a tiny caviar spoon - ours are made of mother-of-pearl. For a hostess to lay out caviar spoons is about the ultimate in luxury delicacies, and you know you've landed in the right place for the evening!
However, I once knew of a hostess in Manhattan (a truly kind, generous woman) who always wanted to give her guests the very best. But she also didn't want to appear pretentious or make cause for gratitude. So in her house you would never see caviar spoons laid out, but she had her chef sprinkle Beluga Caviar on top of crackers with cream cheese, as if it were nothing!
Can you imagine? Now that has to be the ultimate definition of class!
Hope this was interesting and fun, and thanks for stopping by.