Caviar As A Ticket To Ride

I don't recall a time when I had an aversion to foods that other kids would run from -- things like pate, chicken gizzards, beef tongue, sweetbreads, raw fish or shellfish, etc. I really don't recall ever not eating caviar and loving it. That may mean my parents were very open minded and willing to try expensive things on a young child, or maybe they are practical jokers who didn't mind a joke backfiring on them.

To say you don't like caviar is like saying, "I don't like rice" -- there is a large variety, and not liking one doesn't mean you will dislike all of them. Preparations vary, sources vary, and it's such a basic thing that to refuse to eat it is to close part of the world from your experience. Learning about it is useful, and turning away from it is to close your mind to those who enjoy it, and have enjoyed it for centuries. If food is love, experience, and culture, refusing to eat something is tantamount to being a misogynist because you don't understand women (half the population!).

To be able to say you tried and enjoyed caviar puts you in a different category from those who like McD's fries, for sure. I get instant foodie-cred, and if I say, "I'll bet this caviar would be great on McD's fries," then I am not likely to be disrespected or doubted. It's rare that a foodstuff has that kind of real power. And if I say, "I am not too fond of that roe," people do not doubt my credibility there, either.

The main thing is not to make excuses for the preconceived aversion, even before you try it. If you won't try it, then you won't try it, but don't be surprised if people think differently about you for it. Feel free to make justifications for not caring what others think. I'm reminded of a young woman in the first Jamie Oliver "15" training class who refused to try raw, fresh tuna, stating, "I don't have to try it to know I won't like it." As much as he tried to make her successful in the program, she refused and returned to her life as a single mother and prostitute, because it was "easier." Yeah, go ahead and respect yourself, we thought to ourselves ... surely, no one else will respect her for her reticence.

The key is that she chose to fail early on by refusing to cross the threshold even when the door was open for her. She didn't have to buy the toro, or do the research to understand what was good. It was all done for her, she just had to try it with an open mind. All new experiences are like that, caviar included. Yes, it's expensive as foodstuffs go, so if an opportunity to try some comes to you cheaply or freely, be ready and be open.

And trying it once is not enough -- what if you got a mediocre or bad sample? Calvin Trillin wrote a piece about eating takoyaki -- Japanese octopus fritters, commonly made during festivals or on the street in Osaka -- and didn't like them. Rather than rejecting them, he wondered if he got the one takoyaki guy who didn't make good ones? Or maybe he was at the wrong festival? So he tried them, again and again. After about ten samples, he was forced to conclude that he didn't care for takoyaki. Him -- I respect and believe when he says he doesn't like something!
auroramaru auroramaru
46-50, F
10 Responses May 21, 2012

masseure, fresh peas trump canned peas. and just about anything trumps canned peas!

;-{) Give me canned peaches, over the peas Any Day!! ;-{)

masseure, there is no comparison between canned peaches and fresh peaches, either. yet, both have valid reasons for existing. :)

Let me us an analogy. Eating fresh peas from the garden, and canned peas. I am sure you can agree, there is a substantial difference. I first tried some that was from a foil package. Then friends made me some fresh from the market. I do have to say there is no comparison between the two!

masseure, i think nearly anything can be good if prepared "properly," whatever that means. good point -- if the cook is bad or indifferent, no amount of snobbery can save it. ;)

In Korea, silk worms are like caviar here. If prepared properly, they are pretty good!

stu, it's like anything -- i never liked greek food till i learned about it, and realized the greek food i'd been getting or been fed was simply bad. many things are an acquired taste. and more to the point, just because we ourselves don't like it doesn't mean it doesn't have value. it's okay to not like something, but still participate in the ritual -- for inclusion, to not insult hosts, or simply because someday, you might get the epiphany we all crave. i suspect it's largely a management of expectations!

doctorfill, how to eat it depends greatly on the caviar and its "vintage," so to speak. i generally like eating it with white rice -- a sort of comfort food style indulgence! i especially love ikura (salmon roe) -- relatively cheap and when i was young, i loved the jewel-like look of the eggs!

Salmon roe is one of my favorites, too--especially in some sushi preparations. Good word about the vintage; in Eastern Europe there are street vendors selling various tins of Russian black, but not refrigerated and some of it very old. The contents inside can be compacted into a brick from moisture dissipation, so yes, be aware who you buy from.

doctorfill, one of my earliest memory of zakuski was a pressed caviar, cut into thin slices and eaten neat, or on melba toast. it had a cheese-like smell and texture. it still scares me!

Quality does vary as brands do. I'm most familiar with the Russian and Iranian Beluga and Ossetra. There are also a variety of ways to eat caviar, my favorite being spread on lightly buttered French bread, maybe a drop of lemon juice, and combined with generous amounts of champagne.

piercedpirate, america is a big country, with a lot of diversity and variety. i'm wondering if you're from the middle of the country? ;) then again, the middle of the country features some dishes that are outright scary ... brain sandwiches ... fermented fish ... rocky mountain oysters ... yet these foods are relished by their respective populations. it's more about what your mother fed you, and how you were socialized. there are people who cry if forced to eat fois gras, yet many -- in europe, asia, and yes, the USA -- who adore this food and its cousins in flavor and texture. <br />
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interesting that you might have thought i was european. that's a strange supposition! ;)