Caviar is a food that is obtained by processing and salting the eggs of the different sturgeon species, that is, fish belonging to the Acipenseridae family. The granular caviar has a creamy consistency and is made up of small soft grains with a delicate taste.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “caviar” derives from the Italian caviar or caviaro, in turn derived from the medieval Greek khaviari. Merriam Webster, which confirms the Italian origin, affirms an older origin from the Turkish term havyar. According to other scholars, the term derives from the Persian خاگآور (Khāg-āvar) literally “energy cake” or “piece of energy”, for the medicinal and energizing use that such populations made of it.
Products similar to caviar are also produced with eggs of other fish, among which the best known is obtained from salmon roe, often called “red caviar” or ikura and from lumpfish roe (Cyclopterus lumpus) which are artificially colored red or black . In these cases the commercial value is lower and the product has different indications depending on the country, often the name caviar is preceded by the species of fish in question, even if technically caviar means that of sturgeon, while the other products would go more properly called fish eggs. Italian legislation provides that every product that is not strictly caviar is indicated as “caviar substitute” and in the European Union a 1994 European Commission document (Foodstuffs – Coordinated Acts) recognizes that, although in two Member States the name caviar includes several fish egg products, in the majority of the internal market the term should be reserved exclusively for sturgeon eggs.
The issue in the field of international trade generated ambiguity, therefore it was addressed and definitively resolved by the Codex Alimentarius (United Nations Organization that deals with food) in July 2010 when a specific standard for caviar was issued, in which it is The term caviar (“caviar” in the original English text) has been recognized exclusively for products obtained from fish of the Acipenseridae family. Therefore the application filed by the Americans was rejected, asking for the extension of the application of the term to the whole order Acipenseriformes, which in addition to sturgeons also includes spoonbill fish