Angels on Whaleback

From Eric Giesbrecht

2015 Mar/Apr

This is less a recipe than it is a missive sent into a world of nameless distractions to convince you all to eat some caviar – the planet’s most rewarding distraction.

Caviar is a mass of salt-cured, unfertilized fish eggs that have been harvested from any one of the world’s 26 varieties of sturgeon. Every other use of the word caviar – to refer to other fish eggs, more aptly named roe – is a clear bastardization of the term. Caviar comes from sturgeon, and that’s that!

Alongside being a source of vitamins A and D, and potassium, caviar is a considerable source of omega-3 fats. Thus, the glow attributed to consuming large amounts of caviar is perhaps due to its actual mood-enhancing effects and not simply an expression of self-satisfaction. (Takers of fish and krill oil supplements will be familiar with this powerful mood enhancement!)

Why Angels on Whaleback? The dish is visually a metaphor. “Angels”– innocent-yet-knowing, glowing, mysterious and enticing. “On Whaleback” – the part of the whale is played by our oyster, wet with “ocean” nectar, bulging out from the surface.


1 dozen fresh oysters, shucked and on the half shell, with their liquor/nectar (east or west coast varieties will suit equally well)

1 oz. caviar, wild caught if you can find it, but farmed caviar would also suffice (Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc., New Brunswick, provides wild-caught caviar, Northern Divine does a beautiful farmed, organic caviar from British Columbia)

1 spoon, made of inert material (mother of pearl, ceramic, wood, anything but metal)

1 friend, whom you adore


Visually assess your opened tin of caviar and envision dividing it into 12 equal portions. Using your spoon, proceed to mount each oyster with a twelfth of the ounce – this will portion about 2 grams of caviar to each bi-valve. Portioning may take some practice, so don’t worry about being exact. Two grams may seem like a lot, but smaller bites than this are a tease.

There may be a few eggs strewn about the edges of the tin, so be sure to shamelessly apply your tongue to the insides of the container and finish the egg harvest that began many months ago by the sturgeon fisherman.

Consume the well-garnished oyster at a modest pace. A bottle of crisp, dry bubbles should be your only third wheel; try sips of it both before, during and after each bite. They will all offer something different to the experience, which you will find
to be far greater than the sum of its parts. Serves 2.