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Thursday, February 09, 2006

An Offensive Caper 

By way of introduction, please note that I am not employed by Clear Channel, so I have some rights regarding freedom of speech that their employees do not have.

Having noted that, I need to caution you that members of Esther Friesner's Church of Chocolate, or Anthony L's First Church of the Rabbit, may find the following material offensive. You have been warned.

It all started at Carrows, not in Santa Barbara, but in Upland. My wife, daughter, daughter's friend, and I had finished eating dinner and were diving into dessert when we noticed the small chocolate balls sitting next to my wife's plate. Someone (and this time it may not have been me) commented on the resemblance between the small chocolate balls and rabbit droppings.

This, of course, was my cue to take one of the chocolate balls and eat it. At this point, I discovered two things:
  • Unbeknownst to me, this was unsweetened chocolate.

  • This chocolate ball was, for some reason, unusually squishy.

As you have figured out by now, it wasn't chocolate. (No, it wasn't rabbit poop either.) It turns out that these were the capers that my wife had taken off of her dinner.

How did she know that they were capers? Because her meal was supposed to have capers, and these small brown balls were the only part of her meal that she couldn't identify.

What was in the capers? None of us had a clue. You see, none of us (even those that knew something about cooking) didn't know what a caper was. Our waitress didn't know what a caper was.

So I had to go home to find out what I had eaten. The Better Homes & Gardens cookbook didn't include "capers" in its index. The Betty Crocker cookbook didn't include "capers" in its index. Finally, after some research, my wife found out what I had eaten. She found something similar to this:

Capers of commerce are immature flower buds which have been pickled in vinegar or preserved in granular salt. Semi-mature fruits (caperberries) and young shoots with small leaves may also be pickled for use as a condiment.
Capers have a sharp piquant flavor and add pungency, a peculiar aroma and saltiness to comestibles such as pasta sauces, pizza, fish, meats and salads. The flavor of caper may be described as being similar to that of mustard and black pepper. In fact, the caper strong flavor comes from mustard oil: methyl isothiocyanate (released from glucocapparin molecules) arising from crushed plant tissues .

Capers make an important contribution to the pantheon of classic Mediterranean flavors that include: olives, rucola (argula, or garden rocket), anchovies and artichokes.

Tender young shoots including immature small leaves may also be eaten as a vegetable, or pickled. More rarely, mature and semi-mature fruits are eaten as a cooked vegetable. Additionally, ash from burned caper roots has been used as a source of salt.

So it was a good evening, all in all. I ate some methyl isothiocyanate and embarrassed my daughter in front of her friend, all in the space of a few short minutes. Are the Chocolate Church and Rabbit Church rioters gathering outside my blog yet?

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

I love capers! I actually have a rabbit, and I know of what you speak.
One of my daughter's other friends has a rabbit, and we had to babysit it for a few days. We kept the rabbit cage in an office. A *small* office. Never again.
LOL! Yeah, there is extensive bunny-proofing you need to do.
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