Las aceitunas sicilianas de Andrea
Our friend Andrea Giudanella has sent us these wonderful photos of his family farm in Sicily. This year they have produced one hundred litres of oil from their Nocellara variety olives, which are typical of the region around Mount Etna.
The olives you can see in the basket are larger than those used to extract the oil. Andrea says these olives are to be marinated in oil along with carrots, celery, peppers and capers.
Andrea also mentioned that his father is now thinking of cultivating capers, too.
It is said that capers originated in Asia, and were introduced into the countries of the Mediterranean basin by the Greeks. The word caper stems from the Greek “caparis”, which in Spanish then came to be “al-kapara”. This was a term coined in the times of Al Andalus, a mixture of Arabic and Romance languages. The fruit of the caper bush makes for the the meatier caper berries, while what we know as capers are in fact the flowerbuds.
For eating, capers are usually pickled in vinegar. However, apart from its culinary uses, the caper possesses a range of medicinal properties since it is a diuretic; is anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic (due to the caparirutina); and may also be used for skin preparations. In Andalucía and Murcia (where the caper bush abounds), it has also been used as mouthwash to combat toothache; as a cure for infected wounds; and in infusions for stomach ailments and the prevention of hair loss.
Many thanks, Andrea. We hope you will go ahead with your caper-cultivation plans, and we look forward to hearing more of your cultivated stories.