Caviar Belongs on Potato Chips

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Photo: Claire Lower

Caviar has been in the zeitgeist lately, thanks to a recent NYT article about “caviar bumps,or “tasting caviar off the back of your hand,a weird rich person trick I wrote about over a year ago. (I did not, however, call them “bumps,” because I am not a dweeb who has never been offered real drugs.)

Eating caviar off of one’s hand is a great way to taste the caviar when deciding what to pair it with. It takes the chill off, letting you taste the nuance of the fish eggs. It’s also kind of pointless in my case, as I almost always end up shoveling caviar into my mouth with potato chips (and some kind of cultured dairy). Unlike blini, which you either have to make or buy at a specialty shop, potato chips are ubiquitous, and ready to eat the moment you open the bag.

Weirdly, I am only now dedicating an entire blog to this snack, mainly because I thought it was an obvious idea everyone already knew about. But then one night I brought it over to a friend’s house and changed her life (her words, not mine). She had an awakening, and ate caviar and potato chips for days, which sounds expensive but really isn’t. (You can get a decent jar of fish eggs for $10—enough for an entire bag of chips.) Roe and sour cream are now “a thing that is literally a forever fixture” in her fridge. “What fucks me up is how much enjoyment you can get out of a $10 jar of fish eggs,” she told me in a recent text conversation. “Cheap thrills.”

You can, of course, turn this trio into an expensive snack, if you are so inclined: select thick, kettle-cooked potato chips; luscious crème fraîche; and only the finest caviar. Or you can get a bag of Lay’s, a tub of Daisy, and the aforementioned $10 jar. I prefer keeping it cheap, as too-substantial chips and rich cultured dairy will overpower the more delicate flavors in the caviar if you’re not careful. The inexpensive alternatives provide a perfect bite: salty, crispy, creamy, and a little fishy. It’s a good way to ease yourself into caviar enjoyment.

If you want to get whimsical, you can swap out potato chips for Bugles and make tiny caviar cones like the ones you see in the very blurry photo above this sentence. (If you choose to go the Bugle route, make sure you get the cheap fish eggs. Bugles are incredible salty, and you wouldn’t want to obscure expensive nuance with salt.)

Can you get the other usual caviar accoutrement involved? Of course. You can make a big plate of Russian nachos and scatter sieved hard boiled egg on top, along with chives and pickled beets, but doing so detracts from the grab-and-go nature of the snack. Caviar on potato chips with sour cream is everyday decadence; it becomes a little less “everyday” with each additional ingredient.

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