FOOD: Counterfeit Caviar

Servants of the czars used roe of lesser quality to polish up the royal shoe leather, while their masters downed the finer grades with vodka. Today Russian caviar commands princely prices in leading restaurants (up to $20 an ounce) and graces gourmet tables the world over—though rarely in the Soviet Union. Because of Moscow's need for hard currency, most of the 96 tons of gray-black sturgeons' eggs it produces annually are exported, bringing $5.9 million annually to the Kremlin's coffers but leaving little chance for the ordinary Russian to enjoy his national delicacy.

Until now, that is. Attacking this problem of...

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