If you spend a few days on holiday this summer in Italy, especially along the coast
of Sorrento or on the Phlegraean Islands, you will certainly be offered the famous caprese or caprese salad. It is a traditional and representative dish of Campania, although its history is not very old. It also has a character that lends itself to serve
as an antipasto or as a main dish.
The story goes, among a myriad of interpretations, that the caprese was invented on the isle of Capri. It was born thanks to the good taste of a bricklayer who had the habit of fixing himself sandwiches with slices of tomatoes and mozzarella. All garnished with a few leaves of basil. The only real certainty, however, dates to the 1920s when it first appeared on the menu of one of the most exclusive hotels of Capri, the famous Quisisana. The recipe was presented for the occasion of a Futurist dinner. It was presented precisely as a creative and futuristic dish that broke with tradition. The recipe fully embraced the philosophy of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the father of the Futurist Manifest.
Thanks to the colours of the ingredients (the white of the mozzarella, the red of the tomato and the green of the basil), which repeat those of the Italian flag, the Futurists raised it to the honour of being a patriotic dish.
Since then, the caprese, which is now proposed in many variations, has become a cult dish of Neapolitan cuisine. You will find it prepared with cow milk mozzarella or buffalo milk mozzarella; perhaps with the addition of anchovies in oil or perhaps garnished with capers. Altogether, it is a preparation that stimulates the fantasy of whoever is doing the cooking, because it is so refreshing, especially on a hot summer’s day.