I’ve always considered caviar to be almost the quintessential upper-class delicacy: enormously expensive, the best sort coming from sturgeons that only swim in the Black Sea, and bought in little round jars labelled in Cyrillic letters. For some reason it was always associated in my mind with champagne, and posh wedding parties. It was also very much an acquired taste; looking like blackberries but not half so nice. In fact I loathed it; which was all to the good, for someone who couldn’t afford it anyway. (I don’t like champagne, either.)
Coming to Sweden I was surprised to find ‘kaviar’ sold in tubes, like toothpaste, and with a toothpaste-like consistency; like what we call ‘soft’, as against ‘hard’, roe. It is not at all upper-class – in this form, anyway – but is fed to children, spread on toast or biscuits, or on boiled eggs. It’s also cheap.
Is this the Swedes’ way of democratising it? It doesn’t say much for democracy if so. It still tastes horrible to me – oily and fishy; and I wonder whether it’s one of those foods, like Marmite in Britain or peanut butter in America, that you have to be weaned on to, straight from the breast, in order to be able to stomach it in later life. When it’s squeezed out of the tube it looks uncannily like slugs, which is another thing I find revolting. Slugs are my least favourite of God’s creations; even ahead of sturgeon’s eggs.