The caviar was returned to Europe by Roman Pontiff Julius II
He was a patron of arts, sponsoring the monumental frescos by Michelangelo in Sistine Chapel, and had a reputation of a gourmand, who took it to present the delicacy to ceremonial feasts of every royal court he visited.
A rare delicacy, mentioned by Aristotle as early as 4th century BC, was brought to the tables of ancient Greece from the colonies
A tiny vial filled with no more than a hundred of black fish-eggs was more valuable that a herd of a hundred sheep.
The ancient Romans extolled the curative properties of the caviar to such extent that a whole array of trumpeters announced that a rarity was served during a feast, while each dish of roe was decorated with garlands of natural flowers.
The first mentioning of caviar as an appetizer is found in a book by François Rabelais
In 12th century AD, the caviar was rediscovered by Russian fishers
The rulers of Persia valued the caviar’s mystical power, which they exposed to the world, beyond any treasure
The French expression hors d’oeuvre renders shades of meaning as delicate and subtle as the nuance of the noble taste – from a masterpiece and a setting for a jewel to a virtuous endeavor.
Ever since, the caviar is associated with Russia, the Tsars’ treasuries, and the appetites of the aristocracy.
Tsar Peter the Great used to devour incredible amounts of caviar. Every year 11 tons of roe were sent to the court of Nicholas II from Astrakhan and Azerbaijan as a tribute for the royally authorized fishing.
In spawning season, giant fishes easily overturned frail boats, foredooming the fishers to a sacrificial death in the cold waters of the Caspian Sea. The roe – procured with such a terrible risk – was immediately sprinkled with sea-salt and then served to the rulers fresh – as soon as possible. The caviar was believed to cure a multitude of diseases as well as to possess invigorating power and to grant the kings a healthy progeny.
The name for the viand for the elect, meaning literally the source of authority, was borrowed from the Persian by a wide range of nations. It didn’t change much through the centuries, and still it sounds almost identically in Italian, Turkish, English, etc. Yet the word itself cannot impart the exquisite, rich taste, until you palate it in your own mouth.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the shadows of the Dark Ages shrouded Europe, and the cavial literally disappeared in those shadows. It vanished.