Caviar Equilibrium
Erich Brandeis — February 28, 1953

The Mossadegh Project | April 14, 2017                           

In his syndicated column for King Features, Erich Brandeis delivered observational humor and slice-of-life stories, but rarely strayed into politics. When Iran cancelled a concession to Russia to exploit her fisheries, however, it was an opportunity to talk caviar.

Brandeis’ impression of Prime Minister Mossadegh as a man who was not soft on Soviet Russia, was, while accurate, most unusual for the time.

Looking At Life . . . by Erich Brandeis

SO FAR we have not been able to scare the Russians very much. To the contrary, until January 20th of this year, every time the Russians said “Woofsky” we ran into our holes and hid.

Why don’t we take a lesson from Premier Mossadegh of Iran. Apparently he knows how to deal with the Russkys.

He attacks them where it hurts the most — in their stomachs.

If the Russians love anything in this world — besides vodka — it’s caviar.

No red-blooded Russian can get along without his caviar.

When I was abroad the last time I saw Russians eat spoons full of caviar with their breakfast. They eat it for lunch, for dinner, for supper and for snacks in between.

Caviar as you know, is sturgeon eggs—although in New York City, it also comes from white fish. But about that later.

Sturgeons, for some reason with which I am not familiar, thrive particularly in the Iranian section of the Caspian Sea and so the Russian fishermen have for years plied their hooks in that body of water.

But Mossadegh — nobody’s schmoe — recently looked into the caviar fishing situation. He found that all the Russians paid was about $100,000 in Soviet money a year for the fishing rights.

$100,000 was just a drop in the bucket — and when it is Russian money a very small drop at that — considering all the enjoyment the Bolsheviks get out of that precious delicacy.

So he simply nationalized the fisheries and told the Russians to get out or pay millions in revenue. In addition they would have to cut out their anti-foreign agitation or NO caviar.

There isn’t much the can do about the situation. Not even the Reds are foolish enough to go to war over caviar when they have enough trouble all over the world.

But now one of their most lucrative sources of revenue has been cut off. They had a wonderful racket with caviar. They bought it for next to nothing and sold it for about a dollar a carat.

It was nothing for a swanky New York restaurant to charge $25 for one order of real imported Russian caviar.

And those who order caviar, usually ordered champagne with it. That was the proper thing to do and that was the way many a young lady got hooked.

ON New York’s East Side, they have a much neater trick. They use the eggs of white fish for caviar. To make them look like the real thing they color them with charcoal and you can buy a pound of the white fish caviar for almost as little as one ounce of the REAL stuff costs you.

The charcoal usually leaves a mustache on your face — but for the difference in price I’d just at soon have a mustache.

Every once in while we have to entertain some pretty high toned friends — the kind who use the broad “a”.

We give them white fish caviar for hors d-oeuvres and you ought to see how they smack their lips. We don’t tell them, of course, that this is not the real thing, but what difference does it make? Most people don’t eat CAVIAR anyway. They just love to eat MONEY.

A lady wrote me the other day, asking that I publish my wife’s spaghetti and meatballs recipe. I can’t do that. This not a food column. But I thought you’d like to have a household hint, like this one about white-fish caviar, every once in a while.

Vernon Walters Amuses Crowd With Mossadegh Stories (1974)


Related links:

Caviar A La Mossadegh | U.S. editorial, February 4, 1953

AUDIO: 1953 Radio Drama Portrays Mossadegh as Anti-Communist

As I See It by Vee Cee (Iran Excerpts from Sunday Times column, 1951-1953)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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