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Why My Parents Eat Caviar Every Year, Once a Year

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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.”

Photos 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.

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!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Seafood, New Year's Eve