The use of capers as food is an old story. According to one claim, “their use dates back to more than 3000 B.C. They are mentioned as a food in the Sumerian cuneiform Gilgamesh, an ancient retelling of a great flood and ark legend.” But what are they? The caper is Capparis spinosa, a perennial bush that grows in the Mediterranean region and some parts of Asia. It is called kabarra in Punjabi, kiari and kobra in Hindi, kabra in Bengali, lussef in Egyptian, cappero in Italian and alcaparra in Portuguese (source).
The caper that we find in jars in kitchens and pantries is the immature flower buds of this plant. What do they taste like? Not too different from the way olives taste (some say they taste like mustard and black pepper). Just like olives, capers are cured (pickled in vinegar or preserved in granular salt) to be edible.