Susan Luzzaro 6:30 p.m., July 31
The name Abu Dhabi may sound a little like a joke or an old song ("...said the monkey to the chimp" in the dumb song from 1954 or so) but it's now a rich, dead-serious place, connected to the explosion of technology and commerce in Dubai. This incredibly wealthy desert emirate hosts a businessman well along the way to opening the world's largest caviar farm on the desert — but indoors, in ginormous climate-controlled pools.
Oddly enough, the constant warm weather is even better than the Caspian sea for enticing the female sturgeons to make roe. According to the New York Times, "from hatchery to harvest, the fish are coddled in the piscine version of five-star luxury." "If you don't have good fish, they will not give you anything," said Mohamed Abut Awad the plant's production manager. "You have to pamper the fish."
It's pretty green. Most wastewater is reused through filtration systems, the rest turned over to the local government for irrigation-use. The tastier parts of the fish are fileted and sold as fish, while the rest (skin, bones, head) is ground into compost for local fertilizer.
This is not going to make caviar an everyday item -- it will still be a "special occassion" treat. But perhaps a slightly more frequent treat -- say, the anniversary and New Years Eve.
There are already caviar farms in the U.S., France, Italy, Uruguay, and Argentina, among others, but this one is probably on the largest-scale yet, perhaps best at helping those increasingly-rare sturgeon to recover from the depredations of the caviar-trade. In Abu Dhabi? Seems so.