- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
248

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
.
was not to be had at Nasimovo. Here we also got
sturgeon and fresh caviar. Then a boat came alongside
with water melons from the Minusinsk district. We
could see that we were coming south into more fertile
regions.
We saw them take the sturgeon out of a floating
fish-well, in which they are kept alive, often for several
days. These fish-wells are large wooden boxes with
gratings, like those we use in Norway, and they lic
anchored out in the river. A man took out first one
fish, then another, with a big gaff, examined them and,
if he did not want them, threw them back, regardless
of the big holes he had made in them with the gaff.
So he went on till he had found fish of the right size.
Then the sturgeon were tied together by their heads
and tails and carried up to be weighed, and then put
aboard, where they were laid on the deck and were still
alive the next day. They are patient creatures, and
they are treated like dead fish. There does not seem
to be much life in them, though, even when they are
in the river ; but what there is, must be tenacious and
keeps going a long time. Vostrotin tells me that from
Yeniseisk they often send sturgeon to their friends as
far off as Minusinsk. They stuff damp moss or oakum
into the gills, and the fish may live for a week, he says.
This is like the Greenland sharks in the Arctic, which
I have seen lying on the ice with life in them for many
days, even after they had been cut open.
It is extraordinary how much they get out of this
fish ; first there is the caviar, then the flesh, which is
regarded as a great delicacy, whether fresh or salted
and dried. The fish has a lot of yellow fat, and a
dried sturgeon is fatter than any smoked salmon.
Then there is the spinal cord, which may be eaten raw,
but is also dried, cut up into small pieces like coarse
248

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