Sunday, 3 November 2013

Cappero Capparis Spinosa - the Caper

"Cappero Capparis Spinosa", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Cappero Capparis spinosa, the caper bush, is a perennial plant that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and large white to pinkish-white flowers. The plant is best known for the edible flower buds (capers), often used as a seasoning, and the fruit (caper berry), both of which are usually consumed pickled. Other species of Capparis are also picked along with C. spinosa for their buds or fruits. Other parts of Capparis plants are used in the manufacture of medicines and cosmetics.

Pickled Fruit of the Caper Bush
In my opinion, this bush has beautiful flowers which is, of course, why I did this drawing.  Somehow, it is difficult for me to associate these delicate flowers with pickled capers! However, there you have it.

But to return to 
Capparis spinosa, it appears to be native to the Mediterranean, East Africa, Madagascar, south-western and Central Asia, Himalayas, the Pacific Islands and Australia. It is present in almost all the Mediterranean countries, but whether it is indigenous to this region is uncertain. The caper bush could have originated in the tropics, and later been naturalized to the Mediterranean basin.

The caper bush (Capparis spinosa) has been introduced as a specialized culture in some European countries in recent decades. The economic importance of the caper plant led to a significant increase in both the area under cultivation and production levels during the late 1980s. The main production areas are in harsh environments found in Morocco, the southeastern Iberian peninsula, Turkey, and the Italian islands of Pantelleria and Salina. 

The salted and pickled caper bud (called capers) is often used as a seasoning or garnish. Capers are a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, including Cypriot and Maltese.  However, most of us associate capers with Italian cuisine, especially in Sicilian and southern Italian cooking. They are commonly used in salads, pasta salads, meat dishes and pasta sauces. 

Capers are known for being one of the ingredients of tartar sauce. They are often served with cold smoked salmon or cured salmon dishes (especially lox and cream cheese). Capers and caper berries are sometimes substituted for olives to garnish a martini!

In Biblical times, the caper berry was apparently supposed to have aphrodisiac properties. The Hebrew word abiyyonah (אֲבִיּוֹנָה) for caperberry is closely linked to the Hebrew root אבה, meaning "desire".  The word occurs once in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, at verse 12:5: "...the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail."  Ancient translations, including the Septuagint and Vulgate, render the word more concretely as κάππαρις, "caper berry".  Thus in the words of one modern idiomatic translation we read -- "...the grasshopper loses its spring, and the caper berry has no effect."

You may want to check your own favourite translation of the Scriptures and see what it says!



Drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
When I came across this saying recently "there is an unspoken rule...", I couldn't help but laugh. This saying is so true and so difficult to obey.

In fact, I enjoyed the saying so much that I decided to do a cartoon drawing showing me and Suki in this very situation.

Suki, like many cats, loves to get in my lap whenever and wherever I am sitting.  Once there, she obviously expects me to be still so that she can have a good nap -- any movement on my part causes her to raise her head and look at me with almost disbelief in her eyes.  It is like she is saying -- "don't you know the rule?"

The problem for me consists in getting a bad case of the fidgets just as soon as Suki gets comfortable.  Up until the time she crawls into my lap, I may have been sitting quite comfortably with no desire to move at all.  But just let Suki settle down in my lap and immediately parts of my body start to itch -- and these are parts that I cannot reach without moving.

Sometimes, because Suki looks so comfortable, I try not to let myself move and just endure the discomfort.  But I am sure you know how difficult that is!  Just try ignoring an itch as it gets worse and worse.  Sooner or later, even the best of us must give in to the need to scratch!

Of course, when I do make a move in order to scratch the itch, Suki lets me know just how displeased she is.  If I am able to stop moving after just a bit of scratching then she tries to settle down again, but, sooner or later, I get another itch!  When I make this second move, Suki usually looks at me with extreme displeasure and then slowly gets up and moves elsewhere.  I feel as though she is saying -- "honestly, can't you sit still even for a minute?  What are you some kind of wiggle-worm?"

I tell you, this can be very hard for ones self-esteem!  Imagine getting reprimanded by a cat.  Oh, what a life!

So, other than being castigated by my cat, I am doing reasonably well.  I say "reasonably" because I have been having a few problems with sleepiness again. I think maybe I need to have my meds increased as I find that some of my previous symptoms of Narcolepsy have increased once again.  Nothing serious, but enough so that I am glad that I will be seeing the specialist again before too long.

My best news of the past week is that my sister and her husband (from Tennessee) may come up to see me sometime during the week of November 11th!  That is really a happy thought.

And, on that happy note, I will end today's posting.  I hope all my Catholic readers (and those others who believe in the efficacy of praying for the dead) are praying for the Holy Souls during this month of November.  The celebration of All Saints Day on the 1st and All Souls Day on the 2nd gave us a good start for remembering that we truly do believe in the communion of saints.  So please join me in praying for your deceased family and friends during this month dedicated especially to them.

My prayer for all of you, as always, is that the peace of God may fill your hearts and minds in the week ahead -- no matter what life may bring.  Amen.

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