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Is it true that caviar was previously the exclusive food of the poor?

That is correct. There were up to 200 days a year when it was banned to consume meat but permissible to eat fish, according to Russian Orthodox Church customs. Because of its flavor, size, and volume of flesh, sturgeon was the most popular fish. The rich classes bought the fish as soon as the fishermen arrived at the coastlines, leaving the poorest to eat what was deemed trash, such as eggs. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution and the coming of the railroad that sturgeon eggs were promoted in Europe among the nouveau riche (nouvelle riche) as an exotic meal from Russia that began to acquire appeal, and as a result, the prices and reputation as a luxury food began to climb.

Similarly, the lobster was once considered garbage after becoming caught in fishing nets in several coastal areas of the United States; it was dubbed the “sea cockroach” and given to farm animals and slaves. In certain areas, it was even illegal to feed slaves lobster more than twice a week since it was considered harsh treatment. It gained popularity when it began to be promoted as an unusual cuisine in other states via the railroad.