Caviar, sometimes black caviar, is a luxury food delicacy, consisting in processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" (non-pasteurized) or pasteurized, the latter having much less gastronomic and economic value.

Traditionally the designation caviar is only used for sturgeon roe, namely from the wild sturgeon species from the Caspian Sea, in most cases from Russia or Iran (Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga caviars). These caviar varieties, according to their quality (flavour, size, consistency and colour) can reach (February 2009) prices between 6,000€ and 12,000€ per kilo, and are associated with gourmet and Haute cuisine environments.

Presently, depending on specific national laws, the name caviar may be used by a variety of far less expensive products, substitutes and imitations of caviar, such as salmon roe (sometimes called red caviar), trout roe, lumpfish roe, etc.

However, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, roe from any species not Acipenseriformes (including Acipenseridae, or sturgeon strictu sensu, and Polyodontidae, or paddlefish) are not caviar, but "substitutes of caviar".

This position is also adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the United States Customs Service, and the Republic of France.

Caviar is commercially marketed worldwide as a delicacy and is eaten as a garnish or a spread; for example, with hors d'œuvres.


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