DIN­ING

…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!

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