Until recently, I had never done a caviar bump, a dollop of fish roe licked from the area of one’s hand between thumb and index finger. When I ordered the caviar and mini martini pairing at the new Gramercy Park bar Martiny’s a few weeks ago, I did not expect the caviar would come in bump form. Even if I had, I could not have anticipated the way in which the bump would be served—on an articulating wooden mannequin hand. Curled politely in a fist and arced around a small coupe, the hand was the type one might encounter in a figure drawing class. A similar object is available at the MoMA Design Store, described as a “drawing model, ornament, or something else?” In this case, something else.
I didn’t know how to feel—about the mannequin hand on the tray in front of me, about the two other identical mannequin hands placed in front of my drinking companions, or about the apparently trendy bump itself. About a month ago, the New York Times proclaimed caviar bumps to be “all the rage.” With the breathlessness of a 1930’s gossip columnist, the nation’s paper of record stated that caviar bumps “have become a decadent and naughty way to consume the pricey delicacy at certain restaurants, fashionable bars, art festivals and other showy gatherings.”
In response, the takes were swift. “How are we JUST NOW getting trend pieces about caviar bumps?” The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner tweeted, pointing out that caviar bumps have been popular for at least a decade. Meanwhile, on Snooki’s podcast, some guy named Joey wisely pointed out that caviar is “much better for you than drugs, I think.” The Jersey Shorester pronounced it to be “disgusting” and “frickin’ nasty” after receiving confirmation that caviar was, indeed, nothing but lousy fish eggs.