Black Gold Comeback

In the the years preceding the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the dining tables of the Pahlavi court in Tehran were piled high with the freshest beluga caviar, though the Shah himself was known to loathe the stuff. Consumed in the region for hundreds of years, beluga and other caviar varieties have long been prized and, when exported, carry a commensurate price tag. In duty-free shops in Europe, top-quality sturgeon roe can sell for nearly $1,500 for 250 grams. Like oil, caviar has been black gold to Iran and its Caspian neighbors.

Now, the five countries that border the Caspian...

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