July 7, 2020

Caviar and Chow-chow to tickle your taste buds

In my quest to keep my palate amused, I have been experimenting with yet two more new food products, chow-chow and caviar.

When I first saw the term chow-chow in a food column, I thought, what the heck is that? My husband whose mother was from the south informed me it is a Southern condiment which is basically a pickle relish.

Being raised in the Tater Tot Casserole belt of the Midwest, this pickled condiment was unknown to me. I am now enlightened and a fan of chow chow, especially the varieties sold by Mrs. Campbell’s.

The sweet southern version of chow-chow I bought features cabbage, vinegar, sugar and red bell peppers. Other recipes can have red and green tomatoes, carrots, beans, asparagus, cauliflower, peas with some southern varieties being exclusively made with cabbage. Chow-chow may vary according to U.S. regions such as Northern, Southern, Pennsylvania or even Canadian. The name chow-chow may be a nod to the relish’s European origin as “chou” means cabbage in French.

The relish is great with hamburgers, mashed potatoes, hot dogs, fish cakes as well as egg, tuna or chicken salads.

I had a Proust madeleine moment when a memory of my aunt’s caviar pie appetizer dish popped into my head. Doubting whether my local grocery store would carry caviar, I summoned an Amazon page of caviar in glass jars. Sticker shock hit me with many selections being over a hundred dollars. Thankfully, I found a Black Lumpfish caviar product billed as Iceland’s Finest; a mere $22 for three small jars.

Creme fraiche, toast points, hard boiled eggs, finely chopped onions and lemon are some of the traditional accompaniments to caviar, but you can add it to pastas, risottos, soups and sauces as long as you do not cook the delicate fish eggs. You must add caviar as a condiment after the dish is already cooked.

If you are adding alcoholic beverages to your little indulgence, you can serve ice-cold vodka shots, crisp champagne or a dry white wine. Prost and Bon Appetit!

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