Why My Parents Eat Caviar Every Year, Once a Year

December 21, 2015

When I share with people what I do for New Year’s Eve, nine times out of ten, they compliment my parents. Not for my parents' decision to give me Champagne every year since I was old enough to ask for it, but for having the foresight to create an annual tradition so irresistible to me that I only missed it once in favor of a rowdier option.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

For the past 25 years, my parents have gifted each other, without fail, two things for Christmas: A piece of Bauer pottery dug-up at a local antique store and two ounces of caviar, a once-a-year indulgence. Come New Years, the pottery finds its way into the colorful collection that sits above our kitchen cabinets, and one hour before midnight, the caviar’s seal is broken with a recognizable pop.

When my parents first started their tradition—before it was safe to even call it one—they would venture to Greenblatt’s on Sunset Avenue in Los Angeles to buy the roe together. My mom told me that the custom began after she asked herself what she really wanted to do one New Year’s Eve. She told me over the phone, “I think when we realized we didn’t enjoy going out for New Year’s Eve, it was an ‘A-ha!’ moment, like when I realized I hated turkey and didn’t have to eat it for Thanksgiving.”

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Now they purchase Osetra—from Costco's instead of Greenblatt’s—and over the years, friends of mine have joined in, lured by a glass (or two) of Champagne and the pajamas-encouraged dress code. But when it comes to the custom itself, little has changed.

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This is the first year I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve away from home, in my own apartment—I’ve already tracked down the caviar I’ll buy (the $15.99 per ounce option from Sable’s) and the even less expensive Champagne that will go with it—but the assembly will be the same:

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Here’s how I'll be assembling caviar and blinis this New Year's Eve:

  1. Make or buy blinis. These are usually available at Whole Foods, but when they don’t have them available, there are recipes online—you’ll just need to track down buckwheat flour. If you can’t find blinis, mini toasts also work well!
  2. Prepare your ingredients. My mom always sets out a few bowls so that each of us can arrange our blinis to taste: She puts finely chopped onion, crème fraîche, and lemon slices, and the caviar is served in the container it came in with a small caviar spoon.
  3. Make yourself a blini. To arrange the blini, top it with enough crème fraîche to just cover it, followed by a pinch of chopped, raw onion, caviar, and a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Enjoy—and don’t forget to wash it all down with a sip of Champagne! Happy New Year!

Do you have any New Year’s Eve traditions? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jac
  • katie
  • Jennifer Carlos
    Jennifer Carlos
  • Skylar
  • Leslie Stephens
    Leslie Stephens
I eat everything.


Jac December 23, 2015
Hi, you mention buckwheat, but the link to the recipe is for all purpose flour. Do you just sub in buckwheat flour?
Leslie S. December 23, 2015
Hi Jac good question! I've actually never used the recipe linked (which it looks like another editor added in to help!) and I can't find the one I've used in the past, but I've always used buckwheat flour instead of all-purpose, but AP flour also worked just fine! Let me know how yours turn out!
katie December 22, 2015
My Husband and I have the same tradition! It started when I was pregnant with our first son, I never liked going out for New Years and it was a great excuse to stay home. My husband works in NY, he brings caviar and other hard to find treats home on the train.
Jennifer C. December 22, 2015
Since I can remember, my family has made a prime rib roast with a side of au jus for new year's eve dinner. The best part is the next day when we get together for the new year and French dip.
Skylar December 21, 2015
Every year my parents put a pork shoulder in the oven around 8 or 9, add some sauerkraut and just after the ball drops we have some. The next day we make dumplings and mashed potatoes to go with it. Simple and basic, but tradition...and since moving out, it's one I truly miss!