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Ordinarily I wouldn’t presume to poach an item found on the newswire under a Moscow dateline. If Moscow, how could it not be for the front page to report or the editorials to dissect? But, believe me, this one doesn’t rate attention from either. It happens to be concerned with a shortage of caviar and that’s my dish. Figuratevely, I assure you, only because it is sufficiently bantam weighed against matters of moment to fit into the ONCE OVER LIGHTLY slot. As a matter to exercise grave concern I would say that diminished supply of caviar rates with and below a slowdown in the factory making Mail Pouch cut plug chewing tobacco.

a spoon full of caviar

What makes the item ripe for a sidelong glance is that the shortage is noticeable in — of all places — Russia! It’s as if Newcastle had run out of coal. I don’t know that it’s completely justified by the facts but the truth is one thinks of Russia as the great storehouse, the Mecca of caviar. And maybe properly, their waters for some reason catching the fancy of prowling sturgeon. But now a New York Times reporter files a story whose burden is that he couldn’t buy caviar in Russia. What there is of it all goes into export to produce hard currency. And with industrial pollution of the Volga and sundry other waterways which feed the Caspian Sea, sturgeon refuse to thrive and you can’t blame them. Would you, if you were a sturgeon? So you see.

This is not cause for immediate alarm. It is not as if you face the hard prospect of planning your next hot dog and pizza barbecue sans caviar. Things haven’t come to that as yet. To this point the story has only reached the man-bites-dog switch that -- of all places -- no caviar to be had in Russia.

Now I know that empathy for our Russian cousins is at low ebb at the moment, but compassion must be summoned. If this can happen to caviar in Russia, it could happen to vodka. I leave you to brood on THAT prospect.