After studying agriculture in Messina, Sicily, Caravaglio returned home to Salina where he started his own caper and wine company at the age of 25. His vision was to share the long tradition of caper making across the globe.
Mood of Living Q & A
Mood of Living: What is your occupation?
Antonio Caravaglio: Wine and capermaker.
MoL: How would describe your occupation?
AC: My work is one of maintaining the agriculture that is typical to our area. Agriculture here is our main economy.
MoL: Before becoming a capermaker you were..
AC: I come from a family of agricultural farmers. My family was growing and selling locally. I studied agriculture in school. Then, after my studies, I started my own wine and caper company – growing, producing, packaging and distributing.
MoL: What inspired you to become a capermaker?
AC: The island and my family. As a boy, I had two options: to be a farmer or sailor. I chose farmer.
Left image: Cucunci (caper berries). Right image: caper plant
MoL: Where did you learn your craft?
AC: By studying. I went to school for agriculture. It taught me theory, but the practice, that I learned from my family, a generation of farmers.
MoL: Why are capers in Salina considered the best?
AC: Because here in Salina, we have been cultivating capers for centuries. We have become masters of this trade. When planting capers, we make it so each generation is genetically identical as the generation before. Therefore, all the capers are the same. Plus, they grow everywhere in Salina! We have a great climate for them to grow. But, what really makes them taste the best, as well as differ from other capers, is that they are hard on the inside, not airy or empty like others.
“Live in the moment. Don’t just say you want to do something – do it!”
MoL: Why is Salina so green and fertile in comparison to the other Eolian Islands?
AC: Because Salina has the highest mountain and absorbs the most water.
MoL: Where do you look for inspiration?
AC: From this island. I am very attached to Salina. It inspires me every day.
MoL: Do you have a hobby?
AC: I listen to lots of classical music in my free time. Composers like Mozart and Bach are some of my favorites. I also like to go fishing for tuna.
MoL: What is your favorite quote?
AC: Beautiful places make good wine.
MoL: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
AC: I hope to be continuing to expand my business globally and to be introducing my products to new places.
MoL: Do you have any words of wisdom?
AC: Live in the moment. Don’t just say you want to do something – do it!
MoL: What advice can you give anyone interested in starting his or her own business?
AC: Do what you love. Because if you have a passion for what you do, it will bring you forward in life. If you want to get into this business, you have to start locally but always think globally. In this sense, make and produce the best local product around, then market it in the global economy.
Italiana scale with cucunci (caper berries) jar
MoL: In what countries do you sell capers?
AC: The U.S.A., Norway, Canada, Great Britain, and Germany
MoL: Where can we buy your capers in the US?
AC: Dean & DeLuca and Eataly
MoL: How are capers best served?
AC: By themselves. With a little vinegar, olive oil, and raw garlic.
MoL: How long does the caper plant last?
AC: A caper plant is like a tree – a short tree. It lasts forever. There are plants here that over 200 years old.
MoL: Can you share a favorite recipe of yours with capers?
Giussepina’s Spaghetti con i Caperi
Serves 4 ppl
130g smashed capers
6-8 fresh vine or plum tomatoes, cut into medium dices
2 garlic cloves, minced
handful of basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
7 ounces spaghetti (1/2 a standard box)
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
2. In a saute pan, over medium heat, coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil.
3. Add garlic and sauté briefly. Don’t let it burn!
4. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
5. Add capers to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste once capers have been added.
6. Tear off a few basil leaves and add to the sauce. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for a few minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce.
7. Meanwhile, salt the boiling pot of water and add the spaghetti. Cook the pasta until al dente, saving some of the pasta water
8. Add the spaghetti to the sauce, and if the sauce is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
9. Garnish with some basil leaves.
Antonio Caravaglio, Capermaker