Икра, часть первая

by Don  

The word икра has several meanings in Russian. The first one that comes to mind is caviar, which means fish eggs. Russians love caviar. In the US it's a rare family that buys caviar, but in Russia it's very common to buy caviar for parties. It's considered a treat and a way of showing your guests that you are a host that will go all out for them. It is either put in a bowl from which the guests serve themselves with a small spoon, or it is set upon pieces of bread with butter.

The most common type of caviar to buy is красная икра red caviar. Sometimes red caviar consists of light orange eggs, each of which is a bit bigger than the plastic head of a sewing pin.
Sometimes it is larger salmon eggs that resemble the “Balls o' Fire” bait used in the US for fishing.
Sometimes it is чёрная икра black caviar, which is small gray-black sturgeon eggs and is the most expensive kind.

A quick look on the web shows that you can easily pay over a hundred dollars an ounce for caviar, and I've even seen it priced at nearly two hundred dollars an ounce:

What could be odder than paying $200 for a tiny mass of fish eggs? Why, smearing it on your face for cosmetic effect, of course:

When my fellow blogger Таня saw this picture, she said, “I just want to lick that caviar off her face!” Thanks a million, Таня. That's an image I won't be able to get out of my mind for weeks.

Here are a few sample sentences:

Блины с красной икрой – национальное русское блюдо. (source) Blintzes with red caviar are a Russian ethnic dish.
Я люблю чёрную икру больше, чем красную. I like black caviar more than red.
Миланские полицейские приняли решение раздать малоимущим горожанам 40 килограммов белужьей икры, изъятой в прошлом месяце у двух контрабандистов. (source) Milanese police have decided to distribute to needy citizens forty kilos of beluga caviar that was confiscated last month from two smugglers.

Wow, those Italians… feeding caviar to the poor. I'm moving to Milan.


Comment from: Jonathon [Visitor]

Hi Don,

Just found your site and it’s fantastic! What a brilliant way to teach vocabulary.

Just wanted to add that when serving the really expensive caviar the ikra connoisseur would use a mother-of-pearl spoon - metal spoons (apparently) damage the delicate flavour!

Не используйте металлическую ложку, чтобы сервировать икру!

05/21/09 @ 10:54
Comment from: Don [Member]

Laura Goering has pointed out that there is also artificial caviar. Thanks, Laura!

05/21/09 @ 08:23

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