Caviar is Spain's hot new luxury export

15th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

15 April 2005, GRANADA-Spanish sturgeon are producing some of the world's best caviar, according to experts who claim it is on a par with fine Iranian and Russian beluga.

15 April 2005

GRANADA-Spanish sturgeon are producing some of the world's best caviar, according to experts who claim it  is on a par with fine Iranian and Russian beluga.

According to its advocates, caviar from the fish farm in Riofrio, located in the southern Spanish province of Granada, is even better than that found in the Caspian Sea.

The Spanish variety can be served within two weeks of extraction, compared to the 12 months it generally takes Russian or Iranian caviar to arrive in European markets.

The storage and transport time means Iran and Russia have "to pasteurise and add preservatives" to their caviar, Jose Javier Rodriguez, trade director for the Riofrio farm, told EFE.

To a large degree, consumers worldwide remain in the dark about Spanish caviar, though authorities in the field have praised the quality of this Iberian epicurean delight.

Rodriguez said fish farms are "the only way" for sturgeon to survive the commercial tidal wave of demand that has decimated them in the few regions of the world where they naturally abounded.

He said 85 percent of the caviar consumed worldwide now comes from such farms.

In 2002, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) recommended the halt of all exports of caviar from Caspian Sea nations until they adopt measures to address the alarming decline in sturgeon populations.

Personnel in Riofrio are raising sturgeon of the "acipenser naccarii" species in ecologically friendly pools, according to a study conducted by the University of Granada, where researchers took DNA tests of sturgeon kept at a biological research station in the Doñana nature reserve.

When the sturgeon are eight-years-old, they undergo testing to determine their sex.

The males are fattened up for eating while the females are raised - some would say "indulged" - in a tranquil environment.

"The caretakers even go underwater to calm them and pet them, because if they feel attacked they could destroy the eggs," said Rodriguez.

When the female sturgeon reach adulthood at age 14-16, they undergo tests every three months to determine if they are carrying eggs.

Once extracted, the eggs are treated with water and brine to prepare them for consumption, which should be preceded by French champagne, "the best beverage to prepare the palate for the nuances of caviar," said Rodriguez.

Japan is one of the biggest markets for this Spanish bounty, though epicures in France, Germany and Britain have begun to acquire a taste for Spain's caviar.

There is also a flourishing market for freshly extracted caviar - rather than tinned - with clients signing up to receive the beluga on certain dates.

This delicacy can cost up to EUR 9,000 per kilogramme.

Though not widely known, the price of caviar was not always so high.

In the 19th century, fish roe was so abundant, particularly in the United States, that innkeepers served it as bar snacks because it was cheaper than peanuts.

It was the czars of Russia who introduced this poor man's treat to the Parisian aristocracy in the late 1800s, and it has been associated with luxury and sophistication ever since.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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