Many of the esteemed food writers we follow and adore have been lucky enough to find themselves this late summer/early fall on the Sicilian Island Pantelleria. Where, as one might expect, they were swept off their collective feet by "i capperi Panteschi", capers from Pantelleria. At Gustiamo, we have been enamored by Pantelleria's capers since 2000 when we started importing salted capers and "cucunci", caperberries in sea salt, from La Nicchia. La Nicchia is a brand of Pantelleria capers produced by caper farmers who are part of the capers from Pantelleria cooperative.
We could not be more pleased that so many of our favorite foodies were able to visit La Nicchia's capperifico. There is a lot more to caper production than one might assume. As Evan Kleiman says in her Cappero Pantesco post, "Now that I know a mature caper plant yields 1.5 kilos a season (each picked laboriously by hand), I will never use one without marveling at the commitment of those who labor on their knees to bring it to us."
In fact, as David Rosengarten points out in his Gastronomic Report from Pantelleria, "the small ones bring the highest prices... why the high price? Simple labor analysis: 'they are the most labor intensive to pick.'"
In the end, like everything else we love, we prefer capers from Pantelleria because the taste is unrivaled. As Rosengarten says, "the texture is best…tight and snappy" and we agree with Kleiman when she says, "I’ve always been partial to capers in salt from Pantelleria, with their mild, slightly floral flavor." And, Elizabeth, we could not agree more with your prediction for the future of hipster pizza making with capers and crunchy capers (new product idea for Gustiamo?), "don’t be surprised if you see them showing up on the next designer hipster pizza you order in Brooklyn or Portland."