Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" (non-pasteurized) or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value.
Traditionally the designation caviar is only used for sturgeon roe from the wild sturgeon species living in the Caspian and Black Sea(Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga caviars). These caviar varieties, according to their quality (based on flavour, size, consistency and colour) can reach (February 2009) prices between € 6,000 and € 12,000 per kilo, and are associated with gourmet and Haute cuisine environments.
Depending on specific national laws, the name caviar may also be used to describe the roe of other fish such as salmon, steelhead, trout, lumpfish, whitefish and other species of sturgeon.The term is also used to describe dishes that are perceived to resemble caviar, such as "eggplant caviar" (made from eggplant / aubergine) and "Texas caviar" (made from black-eyed peas).
According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, roe from any fish not belonging to the Acipenseriformes species (including Acipenseridae, or sturgeon stricto sensu, and Polyodontidae or paddlefish) are not caviar, but "substitutes of caviar".This position is also adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,the World Wide Fund for Nature,the United States Customs Service, and the Republic of France.
Caviar is commercially marketed worldwide as a delicacy and is eaten as a garnish or a spread; for example, with hors d'œuvres.