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The Philosopher Fish: Sturgeon, Caviar, and the Geography of Desire

Counterpoint, 2005


An excerpt: “A company of gods”


“So one part of my job is very glamorous, travelling all over the world and teaching people about fine caviar,” she said, “and there’s another part, dealing with all these government agencies, which is just intense, and wears me out sometimes. But I personally think this is one of the most exciting industries there is. I love it—love it dearly.”

She smiled again, her face bracing into a gypsy’s promise of delight. “The best part, of course, is that caviar is literally the food of the gods. I think of it that way, and it really is. It’s low in calories, it contains—like olive oil—only good cholesterol . . .”

“It’s expensive,” the British woman interjected approvingly.

“—it’s high in protein . . .”

“We’re in a health food store,” offered the man in the bow tie.

“—and it quadruples as an aphrodisiac. Need I say more? That aphrodisiac role may be subject to question, really, but then again, you don’t eat caviar sitting in front of the TV.”

We polished off the salmon, scooped up the last remaining eggs in the presentoirs, left tips for the staff, and moved on as a group past other gleaming tables and then out the front entrance. This was a shock. The scaffolding shaded us in part from the late afternoon sun, but not from the exhaust of the taxis racing past, or the heat radiating up from the pavement. No matter: Our destination, a short walk down Seventh Avenue, was the Petrossian Café and Boutique, where we had been promised a 20 percent consideration on any purchase of honorific goods.

We strolled beneath the scaffolding like a company of gods, fresh-minted Fitzgeralds and Hemingways and Bakers, newly versed in good and evil, revenants from the divine horizon. . . .

© Copyright Richard Adams Carey