What is That Stuff on My Plate

That is what I said the first time I saw a caper.  I must have led a deprived childhood because my mom never used capers in her cooking.  It sort of looks like a pea to me as it is small and on the greenish side, probably best described as an olive green color.  Capers are pickled flower buds, and they are picked from a plant called capparis spinosa.  A different kind of caper would be a wild escapade planned by a villain, but that is off topic here.

Capers must be handpicked, so they are harvested individually because they are too small and delicate to be plucked by a machine, and that is why they are so expensive.  Capers are berries and they are classified as being a fruit.  Any portion of a plant that contains seeds is technically considered a fruit.  A fruit is the ovary of a plant and a caper would fall into that category.  It seems romantic discussing the plant ovary which is a part of the female reproductive organ of the flower, as it is ready to burst out and greet the day.  When you pick the bud before it becomes a flower, that is what is referred to as a caper.  To be more exact, it should be called a caper bud, as the whole plant is a caper plant and it has various other parts which are not used in cooking, so what we are calling a caper is just the caper bud.

Capers are the un-ripened flower buds on the caper plant.  This plant goes through various stages and if the bud is left on the plant, then it should open up and become a beautiful purple and white flower.  If you let the flower fall off, it will be replaced by a fruit and that fruit is called the caper berry.  Capers are not the same thing as caperberries and to clarify this, capers are the immature flower buds of the bush like plant, while caperberries are the fruit that the bush produces once the buds have flowered and then been fertilized.  Caper berries are usually brined so they can be eaten like pickles or olives and you might see them included in an antipasti platter.

Why is it that I never saw one till I was 30 years old as they have been used since 2000 B.C. and they are even mentioned as a food in the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh?  That epic Akkadian poem from ancient Mesopotamia and Sumeria, which is considered the first great work of literature, oh wait I have gone off topic again.  Capers are a condiment, usually pickled, they add a burst of flavor to foods, and this flavor is described as being lemony, olive-y and definitely salty.  They are widely used in sauce making, in salads or as a flavorful garnish and they are frequently used in conjunction with lemons.

Picture from: https://www.splendidtable.org/story/you-cook-with-capers-but-do-you-know-what-they-really-are

18 thoughts on “What is That Stuff on My Plate

  1. I didn’t have capers until in my early 20’s when one of my friends got married, and the food had capers. Those were seasoned very well, and made the dinner very tasty. Over time, I went to other events that had them, but they weren’t nearly as good. So I wonder if there’s a trick to cooking them. But, I bet you, there are people out there that have never had them before!

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    1. There are different types of capers and supposedly the size of the caper has something to do with the taste. It seemed to me that one day sometime in the Eighties, they went mainstream and cooks started placing them on every dish.

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    1. Capers have an unusual flavor and they might be considered to be more of an acquired taste. I am not a professional food critic, and I don’t think that they are good or bad tasting, they just end up on your plate because the chef is trying to be fancy. From what I read they are described as having a sharp, piquant, salty taste with a hint of sweetness and some people feel that taste like a green olive. Caper lovers have described eating this delightful little pickled berry bud and then getting an overwhelming desire to skip or dance about in a lively or playful way, thus caper around.

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      1. You can’t fool me, you didn’t use the word Consider you used Respect.. Even you know that we are well let me say less-learned

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  2. I have had capers on a lot of dishes, from veal marsala to various fish dishes. That said, though, I never knew what they were. Who would have thought they were pickled flower buds? Thanks for the education on capers.

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    1. My purpose here is not to educate other writers, although I do enjoy researching various topics and producing scholarly work. The research that I do when I approach a topic helps me to learn and before today when this word popped up on the Daily Post, I did not know much about capers. I am glad that you enjoyed my writing and that you were able to learn something. It is summer now, so as a substitute teacher I am off for another month at least and I enjoy writing and reading the other posts and also there are some really great people here.

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      1. One of the purposes of a blog — perhaps the primary purpose– is to entertain. But if one can educated and entertain at the same time, which is something you frequently do in your posts, all the better.

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      2. I like poetry, but as you say to each his own, or some odd expression like that. Writing poetry permits me to express my feelings in a unique way, as I develop a tone and then allow the rhythm to build to the point where someone can relate to what I am trying to convey and understand the meaning of my words. I know that some poems that don’t rhyme are really hard to understand and the one type that I really don’t get is the Japanese Haiku.

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      3. I like poetry, but as you say to each his own, or some odd expression like that. Writing poetry permits me to express my feelings in a unique way, as I develop a tone and then allow the rhythm to build to the point where someone can relate to what I am trying to convey and understand the meaning of my words. I know that some poems that don’t rhyme are really hard to understand and the one type that I really don’t get is the Japanese Haiku.

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      4. The limerick is way too complex for me, as I never count syllables and I don’t like to restrict the length of my poems. I enjoy humorous poems and I love your sense of humor. The proper limerick only has five lines, where the first, second, and fifth lines need to include seven to ten syllables that rhyme and also include the same verbal rhythm. The third and fourth lines only use five to seven syllables, which also have to rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm. Most limericks will change depending on whether or not ladies are present.

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