The Coveted Caviar Of The East: A Delicacy For Which Lives Are Risked

Categories: Food

AndrewNewey is an adventurous British photographer who travels the world to capture images of our beautiful planet and its people. Born in 1978, he started travelling the world in his early 20′s which sparked an interest in photography. After returning to college to study the craft he embarked on a year long round the world trip to put the theory work into practise, which helped fuel his insatiable appetite for adventurous travels off the beaten track.

He began his photographic career over 10 years ago and now spends his time undertaking commercial and personal projects, short and long-term, which involve both photo and video. He also provides photography mentoring in the UK & overseas as well as offering fine art prints of his work.

It is one of the most coveted delicacies in all of Asia, commonly referred to as the “caviar of the East”. Its gelatinous texture is derived from the entirely saliva based, swift bird’s nest from which it is made. Due to its rarity, a single bowl of it can cost upwards of US $100.

Bird’s nest soup has been a part of Asian culture for at least 1,500 years. Swift birds that live throughout southern Asia construct the nests that are used in making it. Typically, they build their nests on high walls of massive limestone caves, like those in Gomantong, Niah andBorneo. The male bird works tirelessly over a period of 35 days during breeding season to build the nest. Their glue-like saliva is woven to create small cup-sized homes. Through years of experience, harvesters who climb these dangerous cave walls to retrieve the nests separate them into different categories. “White” nests are the purest because they lack feathers and other foreign objects. “Yellow or “black” nest are lesser varieties, but harvested nonetheless. Regardless of their purity nests are available in limited quantities, explaining why bird’s nest soup is so expensive and highly coveted. Furthermore, the soup is said to have potent nutritional and medicinal value, and folklore suggests that the swift bird’s saliva is the key to eternal life.

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