Eating endangered species: Baikal omul

Baikal omul is a type of whitefish endemic to the Lake Baikal area. This means that this fish exists only in Lake Baikal. For those people living in the region, it is one of the primary food sources; for whose higher power is Mother Nature, it is an endangered species that should not be eaten; for those with weak stomachs, it is a fish served with eyeballs still intact and would probably not be your first choice at the smorgasbord. It is a whitefish traditionally served smoked, or cured and salted, or frozen. I tried smoked omul, and also cured and salted omul.

When I explained that I would rather not eat an endangered species, mostly just a ruse to avoid eating fish still able to give me the evil eye, my plea was met with blank stares, stares not resulting from language confusion, I promise you: American conservation and environmental groups would have a heart attack in Russia, from the pollution, lack of recycling, etc.

Please forgive me, Mother Nature, but Baikal omul tastes much better than Russian meat gelatin. Last night I also tried a traditional Ukranian dish: salo, cured slabs of fatback, basically spiced animal fat spread on fresh bread (also much tastier than Russian meat gelatin).