A few years ago, I embarked on a dream trip to the South of France, where I took cooking lessons at La Pitchoune (Julia Child’s summer home for nearly three decades). I split the cost of the stay and the lessons with five other women, one of whom was clearly accustomed to this kind of life. (Although I had done a semester abroad in Florence many years ago through my local community college, this trip was a very big gift I gave to myself after much saving, and it was clearly a much more casual affair for this person.)
Anyway. Travelling with a rich person is a trip, but this woman — who had casually mentioned she paid in taxes what I made in a year — did teach me the right way to taste caviar. “Put it on the back of your hand like this,” she instructed us, after a lovely afternoon in Cannes. “You’ll be able to taste it better.” I tried it, and she was right. I could taste it better.
I now do this with every little jar of fish eggs I buy, and I have yet to find another vehicle that delivers the flavour this cleanly. Even my little mother of pearl caviar spoon comes in second place to the back of my hand.
“If you eat something off of your hand, your brain automatically says that there is no flavour profile or texture coming off the back of your hand,” Knierim said. “But if you eat something off a spoon, your brain tells you that a spoon has a taste and a texture to it.
In addition to neat little brain tricks, the warmth of your body takes the chill off the caviar just enough to get those flavour compounds moving and grooving, which makes it easier to perceive them. It’s also very sensual, and eating something as luxurious as caviar should be a little sexy.
I still eat caviar on and off of things that are not the pack of my hand. Blinis, potato chips, breakfast carbs — even Bugles — all are excellent delivery systems for tiny fish eggs. But each time I open a tin or jar, I begin my caviar-eating session with a little bit on my hand. It gives me a clearer picture of the true flavour profile, which translates into expertly paired accoutrement, which is important, because no one likes an amateur caviar accoutrement pairing.