‘Fish eggs? Why would anyone pay so much for fish eggs?’ This was my reaction as a kid when I was told the exorbitant price of the little silvery-grey specks that were on my crackers at a posh party. Now, graced with a little more enlightenment and social etiquette, I recognize this delicate little spheres as a sign of affluence, class, and sophistication, and am kicking myself just a little for not having helped myself to more of this delicacy when I had the chance.
So what is this sacred ‘caviar’ and why is it so darn expensive? Although the speculative side of me would like to think of it as a conspiracy worthy of diamond production or the USA landing on the moon (yes, it’s fake) alas, there is a more logical reason to why this delicacy is out of my pay grade. Caviar is made out of salt-cured fish eggs, traditionally the wild roaming sturgeon fish that was found in the Caspian and Black seas. The roe is either extracted from the ovaries of the fishes after stunning them, via C section, or via a more humane method called ‘stripping’ which involves making a tiny incision near the sturgeon’s urogenital muscles after determining the correct timing of the procedure by conducting an ultrasound on the fish.
So yeah, that’s why.
Originating from the Persian word ‘khaviar’ which means ‘bearing eggs’, the world’s largest producer of caviar is Iran due to its proximity to the Caspian Sea, although neighboring countries in the region are also well-known for their caviar production. But recently, another country has stepped up in the making of this connoseurial favourite, and that country is none other than Switzerland, or more specifically the northern region of Frutigen.
The caviar is branded with the name ‘Oona’, which is a word derived from the Celtic community that was believed to have inhabited the area in earlier centuries, and it translates to ‘the unique, the extraordinary’. This musical name hints at the perfection of every individual caviar grain, and leads to the total experience created around this pure pleasure.
Even the aesthetics of Oona’s packaging expresses its desire to be different. The caviar is packed in little boxes that resemble ice cubes, a very creative way of catching the attention of potential consumers by reinforcing the image of utmost freshness in every box. No two ice cube boxes are the same, as each of them are designed separately with different patterns, textures and ridges. The idea was to create a packaging style that was attractive and presentable enough to be served straight onto the dining table, while serving as a collector’s piece after the little jar has been emptied of its caviar.
The packaging is not the only unique aspect about the caviar, though. Oona’s main selling point is its pure, distinctive taste, emanating from the source of the clear alpine mountain water and the careful breeding and processing of the sturgeons. This Swiss grade of caviar offers three different qualities of roe which are:
This is the highest quality in the range, where the roe has received the optimal maturation time, and is carefully handpicked grain by grain to ensure the minimum grain size of 2.6mm. Only a total of five percent of the sturgeon in Frutigen produces this quality of caviar, thus branding it a real rarity.
Only available with advanced booking, this caviar promises pure pleasure and freshness. Minimally salted as compared to the N°101, this relaxed, sparkling caviar is presented with a fascinatingly fresh aroma that will leave your senses tingling for a taste.
This range of caviar is characterised by its homogenous colour and the perfect roundness of each grain. With a salt content of maximum 3.5 percent, the N°103 delivers a nutty and creamy aroma which emphasises the eloquent taste of this high purity of caviar.
So if you’re a connoisseur in search of a new gourmet delicacy to delight your tastebuds with, head over to www.oona-schweiz.ch to find out how you can get your paws on Oona’s exquisite caviars!