Something Fishy

A bubbling demand for Missouri caviar spawns cutthroat competition.

"We catch fish commercially. Legal. One thing we do a little differently than a lot of people is we keep our fish alive, on ice, until they're harvested," Rost explains.

Griffiths twirls a spoonful of caviar inches from his eyeballs.

"We're FDA-approved. They took two-pound samples out to Washington to test it. Two pounds, mind you! As far as I know, we were one of the first in the state to do it."

Griffiths smacks his lips. "The hackleback is inkier than the paddlefish, not quite as creamy."

"It's not as fresh as the paddlefish," Kathy admits.

Rost grimaces. "The Russian clientele is on the hackleback; that's where it's going. The Russians even buy us the salt [to cure it]."

The trio discusses volume and prices, and Rost promises to call the next time he harvests paddlefish, saying he'll bring some less salty hackleback, too.

"We'll do something with it," says Griffiths. "I'm impressed."

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