The tiny island of Pantelleria is isolated in the Mediterranean midway between Sicily and Tunisia. It doesn't have any beaches, or historic landmarks, or even a source of fresh water. What it does have is capers—and lots of 'em.
Capers are the unopened flower bud of the caper plant. Usually, capers grow wild out of rocky outcroppings, but on Pantelleria they actually grow them on farms. Capers are one of the few crops that they can grow in the arid, windy island climate. That's good news for us, because the capers of Pantelleria are some of the most flavorful ones in the world: they're intensely floral, packing a big flavor punch into a tiny bud.
From May to August, farmers pick the caper buds every day. Then they pack them in sea salt for 20 days to let them cure. Salt packing is important: it helps to preserve the pure flavor and firm texture of the capers better than other curing methods, like a salty brine or vinegar.
Before using your capers, rinse them off for a few minutes in fresh water to remove excess salt. Then toss them into pasta dishes, over chicken or fish, or with cooked vegetables. The flavor will stand out wherever you use them.