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Steven Rosenberg in Moscow
"For centuries caviar has been one of the worlds sought after delicacies"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 8 February, 2000, 12:08 GMT
'Fowl' new caviar for the masses

A cheaper, tasty alternative to traditional caviar A cheaper, tasty alternative to traditional caviar

By Steven Rosenberg in Moscow

It is breakfast time at the Novo-Petrovsky chicken farm. Clucking and squawking, 500,000 birds burst into action.

Poultry pioneers Poultry pioneers
However, these are no ordinary chickens. They are poultry pioneers, pushing back the bounds of food science as we know them. They are not here to make omelettes. Their mission is to create caviar.

Farm administrator Anna Turkina is my guide. She assures me that the idea of making caviar from chicken eggs is not as far fetched as it sounds.

"We make this caviar from chicken eggs - and it is very tasty! Chemical content of eggs from fish and eggs from chicken - not so different."

To see the process in action, I am ushered into a small room next to the chicken house. A woman called Masha, doctor-like in her white coat and headscarf, is busy mixing eggs with sunflower oil, salt and fish essence.

A dash of tea

Indian tea is added to give caviar 'right colour' Indian tea is added to give caviar 'right colour'
She picks up a bucket of black gunge and, to my horror, pours it in. This I am told is Indian tea to make the caviar look, at least, the right colour.

The mixture is then poured into a special machine which creates tiny droplets of "caviar" and fries them in boiling oil.

The result - thousands upon thousands of shiny black pearls. It is pure magic.

The chicken egg caviar is scraped into little jars - over 400 are produced here every day. It looks just like the real thing, and tastes remarkably similar.

But at only 80 cents a pot, it is 15 times cheaper than caviar from sturgeon. And that is not the only advantage.

Iodine: Secret ingredient

This caviar has one other special ingredient which could improve the health of the entire Russian nation.

Chicken caviar passes the taste test Chicken caviar passes the taste test
Each of these eggs contains iodine, a substance vital to normal human development.

Most Russians do not get enough iodine in their daily diet and that, according to scientists, could lead to disaster.

Grigory Gerasimov, a researcher at Moscow's Endocrinology Centre, believes that caviar from iodised chicken eggs could be a cheap and effective way of helping to protect the population.

"The proper iodine supply means normal mental, physical, emotional growth and all development - and without it it means low intellectual level. It means that the people have no good future. "

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See also:
10 May 98 |  S/W Asia
Caviar - eggs all in one basket?
22 May 98 |  Analysis
Caviar politics in Dagestan
24 Nov 97 |  Monitoring
CIS states to adopt new rules on caviar exports

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