Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Caviar and Bordeaux?

Caviar and Bordeaux does not quite have the same ring to it as caviar and Champagne but you will be surprised to learn that Aquitaine, the region in which Bordeaux lies, actually makes its own caviar!

French sturgeon swam wild in the River Gironde until the early 1960s and fishermen used to catch large quantities of them until over-fishing led to the trade being banned in 1982. The French sturgeon is the European sea sturgeon (Acipenser sturio), also known as the baltic sturgeon and is now a protected species. They are found on the coasts of Europe, except the Black Sea and have even been known to cross the Atlantic Ocean to the coasts of North America. Like many other sturgeons, they spawn in the rivers off the coast.

Sturgeon have been around for 300 million years and little in its snout-nosed structure has changed since Triassic times. It has no scales and no bones. Instead, a row of plates ranges down its back and sides which can be lethally sharp.

The modern industry in the Aquitaine Basin is based on farmed sturgeon (a Siberian species of sturgeon) which yields caviar with fruit and nut flavors similar to Ossetra. The main production facilities are at Saint Seurin sur L’isle, near to Saint Emilion. Caviar d'Aquitaine is still madly expensive at about £50 for a 30g tin but it’s also much less scary than other substitutes, like so-called Laotian Caviar, made from catfish roe.

No comments: