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8 answers 3420 views
P1291120
added 11 months ago

Since the real question is about authenticity and the salad has been around since, what, the dawn of time? it seems unlikely that there is only one vinegar that can be used. Unless the folks on Capri only had access to balsamic vinegar (seems unlikely -- I'm guessing they had all types of wine "spoil" just like everyone else, allowing an assortment of vinegars) it seems very inplausible. Not sure you'll find a food historian who can answer this question definitively, so, in the meantime, I'm voting with you. ;)

Monita_photo
Monita

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added 11 months ago

The "purest" caprese salad only has olive oil, moz. cheese, tomato and basil. Balsamic is the most common vinegar added.

Stringio
Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Nancy is a food writer, historian, and author of many books, her most recent being The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. She also raises olives and makes oil in Tuscany, providing firsthand experience for her forthcoming book about olive oil.

added 11 months ago

Your friend is wrong, even if Joy is truly not a great source for Italian cooking. (Look to Marcella Hazan for that.) A real insalata caprese would not have aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar) and most certainly not aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena (the real, honest-to-god thing). Why? Because, first of all, the made-up aceto balsamico--usually a red wine vinegar to which some caramel may have been added for sweetness--is not considered a "good" thing in Italy, even though it is more widely used than it used to be. As for the real thing, you would NEVER (and if I could underline that word I would) use it on any kind of salad. It is much too precious (and expensive) for that. Beyond which, it is strictly associated with the Po region around Modena and Reggio Emilia and not elsewhere, and Italians still treasure the regionality of their food traditions.
If you think your caprese salad needs a bit of acid, and it might, use a good quality aged red wine vinegar--but just a small amount. When I'm writing recipes I often have to stipulate "vinegar, but not balsamic" in order to get the right flavor. Red wine vinegar can be a miraculous product--and even more useful than any whatever "balsamic."

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added 11 months ago

I'm in total harmony with Nancy here (as well as an admirer of her books). Real balsamico, not the stuff you buy at the supermarket, belongs to the Padana region of Italy. Sometimes I will use good Spanish Jerez vinegar instead. But the most important components of this plate are tomatoes, the mozzarella buffala, the basil and the olive oil. Wikipedia? If it's on the internet it must be true, right?

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added 11 months ago

I think if you like great balsamic vinegar, then use it. But nothing should take away from incredible heirloom tomato flavor.

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added 11 months ago

In an untraditional way I like unseasoned rice wine vinegar.

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added 11 months ago

Thanks for all the feedback, guys! Always good to know you're right on something. I have to admit - I'm not a fan of balsamic vinegar (or at least what I've had - maybe it wasn't a very good example?) so I'm perfectly happy leaving the stuff off my caprese.

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