[quote=LabelKing]During the Soviet days, furs and caviar were their only source of hard currency-along with selling the old Czarist art objects.
Well, no actually. Oil, timber, and natural gas brought in vast sums of money. Caviar and furs (along with vodka) were among the few consumer goods to be exported from the Soviet Union. This helped a little with Soviet prestige, I guess, but revenue from these items wasn't remotely in the same league as the money generated by natural resources. Most of the art and antiquities also thankfully remained in the country (except, of course, the exceptional samovar I smuggled out).
Despite its elitist reputation, caviar was or is a very commonplace food in Russia. Of course, there are different grades to be expected.
A nice romantic view, I suppose, but caviar has never been a common food anywhere (probably a combination of scarcity and sumptuary expectations--if not restrictions). Salmon, however, was extremely common in Russia and much despised by the peasantry at certain points. During Industrialization workers sometimes succeeded in negotiating limits on the frequency with which they could be expected to eat salmon.