Ancient recipes of the land inspired by Augustus and Tiberus or by high-class diets based on fish for Grand Tours? Rivers of ink have been devoted to the origins and borrowing from Campania of Caprese cooking. Small trickles by now, dried in the "jaguar sun." The facts tell us that from the dawn of time it was the romantic beauty of Capri to give the cuisine its flavor and not the other way round. It's the magical view of the Faraglioni that balances the notes of the most zealous Neapolitan salad, as it is the glimpse of the magical Via Krupp to stir the insatiable desire for the most tempting stuffed ravioli.
It's the cozy harmony of the Piazzetta to sweeten the more Nordic almond cake and it is the panoramic, winding paths on Mt. Solaro, flowered creases on the hills, to flavor the most savory cianfotte of beans and vegetables. And the mysterious menus consumed by Rilke and Yourcenar, by Totò and Godard, by Marinetti and Savinio? All enticed and lured by a colorful paradise and kept on the island by the sirens of aromas that cannot be found elsewhere.
Among places that are fabulous, secret or shared, even the most simple bite becomes a sweet taste of sin. And so it's Capri: a "mystical hell of azure." The eccentric parties thrown by Jacques Fersen in the gardens of Villa Lysis and the futuristic dinners invented by Prampolini and Marinetti at Quisisana are only the seductive echoes of distant Caprese whispers. Like Malaparte's "spitted" squids, impaled by the light of the moon among the shouts of excited and delighted fishermen. Like the quails of spring sautéed in Certosa by the most gluttonous monks. Like the tender caciotte cheese that preserved "the virginity of the milk" for the pleasure of Gabriele D'Annunzio, and the dry white wine of Anacapri, which even emigrated to the land of gauchos, and was the alcoholic muse of Graham Greene and Norman Douglas. And still today the dry, acidic white chalices that seduced Lenin and Gorky glimmer everywhere between the sour lemon-houses and fragrant wild bushes.
They accompany the culinary creativity generated by a constellation of chefs and patrons attentive both to the products of the dry, but tenaciously cultivated, land, and the fruits of the historically generous sea bounty. The rediscovery of peasant habits is at the origins of the digestive limoncello. Now the handcrafted bottles of the blonde elixir color the island with yellow. Up to the 1980s of the last century, it was only prepared at home during holidays, using the rinds of squeezed Femminelli lemons or, at most, given as gifts to the regulars by less cunning restaurateurs.
In fresh Caprese cuisine, the past and present live together, in proper proportions. To honor a culinary culture that has made simplicity its forte with that "simplicity that is hard to get", of course.