Caviar is a highly prized product based on salted and processed sturgeon eggs with special procedures. The name is of Turkish origin, 'havyar'. However, the "great homeland" of caviar has always been Russia, where the sturgeons of the Volga and the Ural provided their precious eggs to the Russian tsar and nobles every year. The Fishing of sturgeons generally takes place in spring, when the fishes go up the rivers to lay their eggs; in this period a female can contain up to 20% of her weight of eggs (and a sturgeon can weigh a few tens of kilos!).
The freshly caught fish is brought to the processing plants while it is still alive; then it is pressed, washed in fresh water, so that it is ready for salting and from this step depends the quality of caviar. The light salting is the one that gives the most valuable caviar, that is the malossol (which means a little salt), which is prepared with the smallest eggs, while the broken ones are salted and pressed, giving life to a product with a rather strong taste.
The most famous and prized caviar is the beluga, with eggs that can reach 3 mm in diameter, varying in color between gray and brilliant black; then d'osetra, with medium-sized eggs between brown and gold; finally, the sevruga (the less valuable type), with very small and gray eggs.
Caviar is packaged both in large cans and in small glass containers, with pressure caps, called papaline. In any case, once the package is opened, it is good to consume the caviar very quickly. The best way to serve it is in the package itself dipped in crushed ice; this is because the eggs are very fragile and must be handled as little as possible. Silver or metal spoons could alter the taste of caviar, so it is advisible to never used them, only bone or mother-of-pearl spatulas or spoons should be used.
Caviar should always be accompanied with lightly buttered croutons. Lumpfish and salmon roe are much cheaper substitutes for caviar.