Wild Capers!

My husband and I went out for a passeggiata after lunch today. In Italy, the passeggiata, or evening stroll, is an integral part of life. If you live in the city, you do it downtown and look at the shops; if you live by the sea, you do it along the lungomare, which is a promenade that stretches along the coast. After getting a gelato and enjoying the sun reflecting off the water, we went back to the car to take a drive. We live in a small city that is pretty much surrounded by agricultural countryside, so taking a drive is more of an adventure into nature than a ride through town.

I have been seeing a lot of these small red poppies growing along the streets and I wanted to get some for our yard (they look just like the California poppy, only the petals are bright red). We stopped in a few places to pull some up and then Leo remembered that capers are in season; so off we went, bouncing across dirt roads and down small paths, in search for caper bushes. He hadn’t seen one in several years, I saw a show a while back on the capers of Pantelleria (a volcanic island off the coast of Sicily known for it's capers), so we knew we were looking for a bush of some sort--but we weren’t sure if we could spot it or not.

We quickly zipped down a dirt ally and pulled up next to yet another dark green bush, but we were yet again mistaken. Just before turning around, I pointed to another bush a little farther down with some white flowers on it. “What about that one?” He got excited--something about those flowers triggered his memory and he proclaimed “that is definitely a caper bush!”

There they were! All these little buds, shaped just like the capers in jars that I have eaten all my life. We picked just a few, with plans on coming out again on a serious mission. Now, I knew that capers were actually buds of flowers, but I never knew what the flower looked like. WOW! It is so beautiful! And the scent is absolutely intoxicating. It is so sweet, like cotton candy--yet milky. It’s very hard to describe and is unlike anything I have ever smelled.  But as I sit here writing this, the air is perfumed with this unique sugary scent. It is truly delightful.

As much as I love capers, I will now regret every single caper I eat, as it is a flower that will never be. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly won’t stop eating them--I love capers. But now I know the sacrifice.

Ó Cappero!

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