Blini with salmon roe. Wikimedia Commons image.

Twelfth-century Russia produced so much caviar that commoners could buy it, while elsewhere the “black gold” was almost unknown. One tsar sent a pound to a Western European monarch who had his cooks boil the diplomatic gift. 

With beluga sturgeon critically endangered and its eggs fetching hundreds of dollars per ounce, salmon roe—at about $15 a pound—outside of Alaska, too, has become all the rage. Its coral-red pearls…

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