Sunday, March 14, 2010


One of the reasons I originally started a vegetable garden was to establish a stronger connection to what we eat. Having grown up in the suburbs of New York and Miami, I did not have a lot of access to "farm fresh" food growing up. I had no idea what a spinach plant looked like until I was in my early 30s. I wanted my girls to know where their food comes from, so we started a garden as a way of giving them that connection.

A few months ago at dinner, my sister asked "Where do capers come from?" An excellent question that I could only answer with "the jar in the refrigerator." So I looked it up and found out that capers are actually the pickled flower buds of the prickly caperberry bush (Capparis spinosa), which are native to the Mediterranean region. The flower buds are picked by hand, and then pickled usually in salt, vinegar or brine for several months. When I find things like this out I am always left wondering who was the first person that thought "hmmm... let me take this unopened flowerbud, toss it in some salt, leave it alone for a few months, and then let me eat it."

One night while watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, I came across a whole segment on capers and caper harvesting: (start at about 3:40)

All in all, I have a much greater appreciation for the caper now knowing the amount of work that goes into harvesting and pickling it. But I have found that to be the case with many things since I started to do more things for myself, like sewing, canning, and gardening. I used to see quilts at craft fairs and think they were overpriced - who would pay $200 for a blanket? ... until I made my first quilt and saw how much time and effort it took to piece the top of the quilt and then actually quilt the layers together. I now see quilting as an art form and quilts as works of art, not blankets.

One of my favorite quick snacks with capers - Capers with cheese on toast. A friend of mine introduced  me to this yummy treat in college. Grab a slice of your favorite bread, layer on some cheddar cheese and then sprinkle a few capers on top. Pop it in the toaster oven until the cheese starts to get all melty and enjoy!

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