It's a damn shame we are pushing species into extinction for irrational reasons (overrated fish eggs, rhino horn ED "cures", etc)
The price of sturgeon caviar is just odd and seems to be mostly about the rarity. I have a hard time imagining the taste being that different from caviar of other similar type of fish. I have eaten roe from many different species and the primary distinction in taste seem to be linked to the oilyness of the fish.
I grew up in the Soviet Union, and in the 80's black sturgeon caviar was readily available at reasonable prices.
It was and is DELICIOUS. We had no idea it was a status symbol, we just loved the shit out of it on bread with butter.
When I was a kid it was stuff you'd mix into mashed potatoes to make them taste better, and it came in huge (a Kilo, I think) tins.
But outside of ex-USSR, I don't see why people would pay that much for it. Is it delicious? Yes. Is it that delicious? Not really, for money you can get more of something even tastier, I think.
However, as far as most overrated and overpriced item the honor, in my book, goes to truffles. Which, for me, are not even enjoyable. But this is certainly just a personal preference.
"Ground-breaking truffle harvest portends something big in California" https://www.sfchronicle.com/wine/article/Ground-breaking-tru...
It is expensive (~US$ 15 per person in truffles for a meal), but for me it's definitely worth every once in a while.
Sample recipe: http://www.travellingoven.com/2017/03/tagliatelle-pasta-with...
I grew some at home once just to see what the real stuff tastes like, and while the flowers were pretty, I'd never bother with it again.
I'd finger filet mignon as an overrated showy food because it actually has very little flavor and it is bragged about among country-club suburban nitwits with their 3-series Beemers and "premium beige" mcmansions.
Yes, it is a status symbol, solely because of its high price and because it is scarce.
These aren't controversial things, you already figured it out, but somehow have cognitive dissonance over this.
The foie gras that GP mentioned, is inherently labor intensive to produce and not abundant anywhere.
Because it is scarce, it is a status symbol.
Because it is a status symbol only because it is scarce, it is overrated.
Therefore it is overrated.
I admit that when the vast majority holds a common subjective opinion, for many intents and purposes it can be considered objective, but I'm not sure if it applies to caviar...
— you, six days ago
There was plenty of poaching during the communist times, but not enough to utterly destroy the country's fish stocks.
Ah thats where we are going to disagree. That logic path isn't a leap I would make.
You are undervaluing the utility of scarcity.
Now one can reasonably disagree over whether they should be useful. But the case that they actually are not useful is a difficult one.
...would seem the solution here would be to open up the caviar market with Iranian imports (caveat: I'm Persian), but the luxury goods sanctions snapped back courtesy of the current administration, so the monopoly is back with the Russians. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-08/what-s-ne...
Believe it or not, this is pushed by the same folks that own Fiji Water and Pom Wonderful.
I like caviar... I have eaten quite a bit of caviar including Russian Sevruga and Beluga and I think actually prefer American Hackleback to all of them. The fact it is massively cheaper than Russian caviar is just an additional plus.
In fact this transition is right in the article: "...paddlefish caviar — a byproduct that for years local fishermen tossed back with fish guts — ..."
Lobster didn't go from inedible to highly desirable because of scarcity. It's because we learned that when you kill the lobster and let it sit around for days it very quickly decomposes and releases ammonia, which tends to taste like cat piss. If you cook it immediately after killing it it actually tastes good.
I believe we actually cook it before killing it (boil alive).
Frozen lobster is also not cooked. Sometimes it's death by freezing, if they're not killed another way first (for instance, frozen lobster tails are obviously killed before being cut). I'm quite certain boiling alive is one of the least common ways it's done, especially with the popularity of frozen lobster.
What's the point of any luxury item? People enjoy it. If you don't, don't worry, you can probably find something else to enjoy instead.
> ...paddlefish caviar — a byproduct that for years local fishermen tossed back with fish guts
Lots of luxury items were once byproducts - it's not unusual and it doesn't diminish the enjoyment people get out of them now. Lobster (as you said), oysters, alcohol, are all examples.
The bad news is is that their chief competitor for food is Asian Carp. From my reading this is a much larger issue than Russian poachers.
(If you were wondering, I was looking into Asian carp snagging and got to reading up on Paddlefish since they inhabit the same waters near me)
Seems like they could have just increased the cost of fishing licenses (or some similar fund-raiser) and increased the stocking effort.
Or heck, just farmed the caviar and sold it to aficionados …
>Most of the men were buying female paddlefish, processing knockoff caviar and just … eating it. Illegal, yes. But the plot of a Russian mafia thriller? Hardly.
>If the government did not realize its miscalculation, at least some officers must have on March 13, 2013, at 7 a.m. Central time, when 125 state and federal agents descended on poachers across four time zones to make arrests.
>During an interrogation, one poacher was confused. The caviar was for his family to give guests when they came over.
>“Why would I want to sell it?” he asked.
>“To make money,” an agent suggested.
>Of the 112 defendants tagged with state or federal violations, investigators observed only Petr Babenko, the owner of a gourmet store in Vineland, New Jersey, intending to sell the stuff. He was prosecuted, convicted, and given probation. The government seized his Mercedes van.
>To Hitchings, it doesn’t matter. Other men were undoubtedly selling, he said