Ask The Amateur Gourmet: Capers!

[This was posted several weeks ago, and I’ve been slack in answering it, so here we go! Oh, and PLEASE post more questions in the comments section!]

Dear Amateur Gourmet,

What, in the name of all that is holy, are capers? Are they animal, vegetable, or mineral? All I know is, anything I order in a restaurant containing capers tastes distinctively of nail polish remover. Why is this?



Dear Kevin,

Thank you for your question! Experts will tell you that capers are the buds of a thorny bush. For example, Ari Weinzweig in Zingerman’s Guide To Good Eating writes: “Capers are the cured buds of a wild bush, or, rather, a group of related shrubs, that grow all over the Mediterranean.”

Yes, experts will tell you this and you may believe them, but the truth is much more complicated. For example, think of “The Great Muppet Caper.” Do you see any thorny bushes in that movie? Or, for that matter, a group of related shrubs? And what, exactly, is Gonzo? This thing goes very deep.

The best answer comes from noted culinary mathematician Zenclaw F. Rizzle who writes: “Spell CAPER backwards. What do you get? REPAC. What does that sound like? TUPAC. Who killed TUPAC? There’s your answer.”

So I hope that clears things up. Perhaps it’s telling that you think capers taste like nail polish remover and Tupac died while getting a manicure.


The Amateur Gourmet

4 thoughts on “Ask The Amateur Gourmet: Capers!”

  1. Four questions (actually 5, well 6, the fourth one is a two part question and the last one isn’t related to food per se) :

    1. Tomato- fruit or vegetable?

    2. Tomatillo- tomato or gooseberry?

    3. Is it true that eggplants are in the same family as the tomato and the tomatillo?

    4. In Martha Stewart’s handbook on hors d’oeuvres, she has a chapter entitled “wrapped, rolled, filled, folded, and stuffed.” Of particular interest in this chapter are the various edible cups/containers that she creates. One of her examples is the grape, which she suggests that you hollow out and fill with one of her various cheese fillings.

    The question(2 parts): A. How many cheese filled grapes should I prepare for a party of 10? B. What do I do with the left over grape insides after I hollow them out?

    Non-Food question: Are you related to the galloping gourmet? I do love some graham kerr. If so, please tell him I said hello.



  2. Dear Wise One:

    Please tell me difference between baking powder and baking soda? And should I be alarmed that baking soda can be used for everything under the sun, including cleaning my shower?

  3. I just had to chime in and respond to Ross’s question #3. According to Alton Brown, the eggplant is actually just a really large berry. The largest berry there is, actually. It seems to insane to be true, but he seems like he knows what he’s talking about and he probably has fact-checkers and stuff. Anyway, that would also make the eggplant a fruit, like the tomato, and I believe the tomatillo as well.

  4. I just wanted to ask how was it eating JJ’s breasts? :) Was it au aturel or did it have silicone in it? Did the nip ring hurt your mouth?

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