You always hear about the price of caviar, or the taste of it, but you rarely ever hear about how caviar is served. If you just got your hands on a tin of caviar and you’re wondering how to make the most of it, then you’re in the right place.
Today, I’m going to answer the age-old question, how to eat caviar?
The proper way to eat caviar is with a caviar spoon, typically made out of bone or mother of pearl. If you don’t have a caviar spoon at your disposal, a small metal spoon can work, but it won’t be ideal.
There are many reasons why caviar is served in such a specific way, including maintaining the flavor profile of the beads and simple tradition.
I’ll be taking a look at why you may wish to follow the customs and traditions when eating your caviar over the course of this guide.
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How To Eat Caviar
You may have heard that you’re expected to eat caviar with a silver spoon, but nothing can be further from the truth.
While silver spoons are typically associated with fine dining, they are decidedly not associated with caviar because of how chemically reactive silver is.
Along with silver, most other metals are chemically reactive, so you should avoid most (but not all!) metals when picking out your caviar spoons.
You may be wondering why caviar is sold and shipped in metal tins if it can dramatically alter the flavor, but the tins have an inert internal lining. This lining ensures that the flavor of the caviar won’t be impacted by the tin itself.
Caviar has a very delicate flavor that can be altered by even the most subtle chemical interactions, like those between the caviar and the spoon that it’s being served on. This means that caviar spoons are typically made of inert materials that will not react with the caviar and affect its flavor.
Whether or not you notice the effect of the spoon on your caviar depends on how much experience you have eating caviar, and if you’re going for a cheaper batch, you may get by with using a metal spoon.
However, if you’re eating something expensive and rare like beluga caviar, it’s a cardinal sin to eat it with anything but a caviar spoon. Along with the materials used in their construction, caviar spoons tend to be relatively small, as they’re designed with a mouthful of caviar in mind.
While the size of the spoon’s surface is relatively uniform across caviar spoons, the length can vary considerably depending on the set that the spoon is from. The shortest caviar spoons tend to be a couple of inches long while the longest can get up to five inches in length.
Caviar Spoon Materials
There are a few different materials that are used to produce caviar spoons, and all of them are inert, meaning that they won’t alter the flavor of your caviar. Here are the most common materials:
- Mother of pearl
- Animal horns
Mother of Pearl
Mother of pearl is one of the most common materials that is used to create caviar spoons, and it’s certainly one of the most stunning with its opalescent appearance. If you want your caviar tasting experience to be as refined as possible, then the only potential rival to this material is gold.
Mother of pearl is also known as nacre, and it’s the material that pearls are made out of, as well as the inner lining of the nautilus shell. This material is typically commercially sourced from pearly oysters, pearl mussels, and abalones, though the latter is one of the rarer sources of the material.
Yet another non-reactive material used for caviar spoons is animal horn, which is mainly composed of keratin and similar proteins, almost like our fingernails. Animal horn caviar spoons tend to be relatively expensive, though some users may shy away from using the material due to its source.
Animal horn caviar spoons have grown less common in recent years due to animal rights concerns about how they’re harvested. While some animal horns are harvested without killing the animal, many of them are the byproduct of animals being slaughtered.
Some of the most common sources of horns for caviar spoons include buffalo and elk, though oxhorn is also commonly used.
While metals are typically not used in caviar spoons because of their reactivity, gold is a special exception. Gold is a non-reactive metal, and this is evidenced by its inability to oxidize. Gold doesn’t oxidize because it doesn’t react with the oxygen molecules in the air, just like it won’t react with the caviar on your spoon.
Gold is typically reserved for fancier caviar spoons available at a higher price point. If you want to fully enjoy the luxury of eating caviar without sparing any expense, there are plenty of gold caviar spoon sets that you can find available.
Compared to the other materials on this list, using a wooden caviar spoon may seem a little uninspired, though you’d be surprised by the craftsmanship that goes into some of these spoons. Wooden caviar spoons are typically handmade, so each of them is typically unique.
There’s something special about knowing that the spoon you’re eating your caviar with is one of a kind and that it was fashioned by a master woodworker. Of course, the quality of wooden caviar spoons varies depending on who produced them, and this also means that they’re available at a wide range of price points.
The most affordable caviar spoons are made out of plastic, but these aren’t the typical flimsy plastic spoons that you’d expect to see at a public event. Plastic spoons for caviar are typically more rigid, especially along to handle to ensure that your caviar doesn’t accidentally get catapulted off of the spoon due to its flexibility.
Plastic spoons tend to be less durable than other kinds of caviar spoons, and they are typically used at caviar stores so that customers can taste the caviar that they’re considering. Plastic caviar spoons are available in both disposable and reusable varieties.
Do You Eat Caviar With a Fork?
While you can technically eat caviar with a fork, don’t be surprised if you get a weird look from veteran caviar eaters wondering why you’re using the wrong utensil.
Traditionally, spoons have been used to eat caviar instead of forks, and it makes sense when you think about it from a logical perspective.
Forks are typically used to spear pieces of food, making it easier to bring them up to your mouth. Caviar, however, is too small to spear with a fork, and you wouldn’t want to do that anyway. Part of the experience of eating caviar is enjoying the explosion of flavor when the beads pop in your mouth.
When you use a fork, you run the risk of popping the caviar beads and draining them of their flavorful liquid. This is why you’ll want to be gentle when consuming caviar, even if you’re using a spoon to eat it.
Another logical reason why you’d prefer to use a spoon when eating caviar is that it’s easier to pile up a small amount of caviar on top of a spoon instead of on top of a fork. Due to the shape of a fork, your caviar beads will be more likely to roll off the side of it when you’re bringing it up to your mouth.
Keep in mind that you don’t eat caviar with any old type of spoon. Tradition dictates that you have to use a caviar spoon.
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