…remember to specify whether you want a salad or a dessert. Where reveals the origins and some interesting facts about these two Campanian dishes that share the name, the birth date and the place of origin
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If, while holidaying in Campania, you order a ‘Caprese’, the waiter is likely to ask you whether you want a salad or a dessert because, in Campania, the word ‘Caprese’ could mean either one of the two. The story of both dishes is highly unusual and well worth the telling. The quality that distinguishes the ‘Caprese’ cake from all others is that it does not contain any flour: the chef who first made it forgot to add it to the recipe! Legend has it that, in the Twenties, Capri chef Carmine di Fiore was commissioned to create an almond cake by three gangsters who had come to Capri to buy a batch of gaiters for Al Capone. Either because he was in a hurry or afraid of his clients, the chef forgot to add flour to the mixture, an error that could have cost him dearly but, instead, ended up by making his fortune. The cake turned out to be absolutely delicious. It was soft in the middle with a crunchy outer shell. The gangsters were delighted and when the chef was asked what this cake was called, he blurted out ‘Torta Caprese’ (its ingredients include almonds, butter, dark chocolate, sugar, eggs and icing sugar). Capri is also home to the ‘Caprese’ salad. Made with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, its origins also date back to the Twenties. It appears to have first been created at the Quisisana hotel for a futurist dinner organized in honour of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. This unusual salad, featuring the traditional colours and ingredients of Italy, was created to surprise the poet, known to be a staunch critic of traditional cuisine and, in particular, pasta. It goes without saying that Marinetti enjoyed it thoroughly. Now served as an appetizer, a main course or a complete summer dish, the ‘Caprese’ has become a symbol of Italian cuisine worldwide, a hot favourite with tourists holidaying in Italy. Make sure to remember this story when you order it!