It really was only a matter of time, wasn’t it? Now that any home cook with too much ambition and a little extra shelf space can play mad scientist with her own hydrocolloid kit; now that Top Chef contestants get bounced because their vanilla foam “looks like spit;” now that we’ve all come to know what those inverted quotation marks mean on menus, it seems inevitable that molecular gastronomy would become available to those who can’t be bothered to make the journey to the Costa Brava or mix up a little methylcellulose in the kitchen sink.
And thus behold: A small company in Catalonia, called Just Gourmet Food, has introduced Spherical Caviar. In a jar.
Just Gourmet’s Spherical Caviar looks like tiny pearls. They explode in the mouth with a pleasingly juicy pop. In other words, they are more or less an exact replica of what Ferran Adrià does with a bit of sodium alginate and olive oil. Or melon.
“That’s where we got the idea,” says Just León, the company’s founder, with a giggle that can only be described as sheepish. “From Ferran’s melon caviar. We just use different fruit.”
Just Gourmet’s caviar comes in three flavors: lemon-lime, strawberry, and apple-ginger. It costs about $6 for a 7.5-ounce jar, which sounds expensive until you break it down. “Each pearl costs less than one cent,” says León. “If you use three to garnish a canapé, you’ve spent less than three cents.” So far, the product is only sold in Spain, France, and the Benelux countries, but León hopes to find a distributor in the U.S. and to expand his line to include passion-fruit and cider-vinegar versions.
As for how the progenitor of roeless “caviar” feels about this latest form of “flattery,” León is sanguine. “I don’t think Adrià minds,” the food engineer muses. “I would have heard by now.”