In the mid-16th century, the first Czar, Ivan the Terrible, reached the Caspian Sea after conquering the banks of the Volga and discovered caviar. Being much enjoyed by Czar Alexis I, it became the imperial symbol in 1675. From then on, this dish was a regular favourite prized by the entire Russian court. At the same time, Russia was opening up to the world, but the caviar it exported was pressed: with a strong flavour and smell, and salty, it was not to everyone’s taste.
In the early 18th century, Czar Peter the Great’s ambassador presented a first tastie of caviar to King Louis XV of France.
Though it was once impossible to enjoy fresh caviar in Europe, the industrial revolution in the second half of the 19th century enabled caviar to reach European tables.
As fervent admirers of France as a global leader in taste and fashion, the Russians imported their aperitif tradition of ”Zakuski”, their favourite appetizer during the famous Russian ballet era. This outstanding dish was then adopted by leading French Chefs such as the great Auguste Escoffier, known as the ”king of cooks and the cook of kings” …
Caviar was now found in the greatest haute cuisine restaurants.
In 1920, faced with the Bolshevik revolution, many Russian citizens decided to emigrate to France, which marked the second caviar boom.
While out walking in a village in Aquitaine Princess Romanov, a figurehead of these exiles, noticed fishermen throwing precious black beads into the sea. Outraged by such a waste, she promised to teach them the secrets of making caviar.
By the 1930s, caviar had become the embodiment of elegance, opulence and luxury, both in Paris and on the Riviera. After Paris, it was only natural to make its way to Hollywood, where the stars of the time used it as a matchless means of seduction.
Today, Russia is still the world’s leading caviar market in terms of consumption.