Oddly Enough

Milan's homeless get caviar for Christmas

Fresh caviar is seen at the Caviar Creator aquacultural facility plant in Demmin, about 170 kilometres (105 miles) north of Berlin in this file photo from November 15, 2006. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

ROME (Reuters) - Down-and-outs and hard up pensioners in Milan will enjoy a rare Christmas treat this year: choice beluga caviar confiscated from traffickers.

Italian police seized over 40 kg (88 lb) of the delicacy, worth some 400,000 euros (373,000 pounds), from two men who last month smuggled it into the country from Poland for sale in the shops of Milan and the rest of the wealthy Lombardy region.

The head of the local forest police who carried out the raid kept the bounty in barrack fridges for several weeks, but realised it would soon go bad.

“Tests showed us the food was still perfectly OK to eat but it couldn’t be stored much longer, so we decided to give it to the poor,” Juri Mantegazza told Milan daily Corriere della Sera.

A small amount of the sturgeons’ eggs have been kept for further analysis while the rest has been sent to voluntary associations, charity kitchens and old people’s homes.

“Everything that comes our way is very welcome, even though most of our guests don’t even know what those little black balls are,” said Virginio Colmega, a priest who helps run the House of Charity in Milan.

Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Katie Nguyen