Maybe you’ve seen it before. I remember seeing the same poster at a Pizza Hut a long time ago. I stopped to look at it again. It’s not that interesting, but Mike was paying the bill and I was waiting for him to ask me how much to put for a tip. He never asked because I distracted him.
The poster was an engineer’s specification on how to build a pizza. It showed the pizza from various elevations complete with measurements. The overhead elevation showed the pizza cut into various pieces with the different toppings you could have. One of the toppings was capers. I was feeling silly, so I asked Mike, “How come we never have capers on our pizza.” It was probably about the time he would have asked me to calculate the tip. Instead, he was forced to think of an answer, “Because we don’t know what they are.”
I was so sure of myself, “Sure we do. They’re… little… onions… I think.” I thought to myself, “Sure, they’re onions. They are tiny little onion things, right?” I wasn’t sure of myself. I was just trying to reassure myself. I knew they tasted good. I usually had them on a salmon pizza at Wasatch Broiler and on bagels with cream cheese and salmon, of course. I just couldn’t quite tell anyone what they were. The closest description I could come up with was onions.
The girl behind the counter took the credit card receipt that Mike had signed and replied, “Really? I thought they were peppers.” When she said that, I imagined green peppers and red peppers and yellow peppers and jalapeno peppers, “No. They’re definitely not peppers. I think they’re little… onion… things.” She became confused and called to the guy in the kitchen, “Hey, what are capers? They’re peppers, right?” The guy held up his fingers and brought them close together as if he had caught a bee, “No, they’re little…” He stopped talking and looked at his fingers.
The waitress in the back tentatively added, “I think they’re seafood. Aren’t they seafood?” I started to panic. I was sending the entire staff of Robintino’s into the depths of a conversation that I had started flippantly while waiting for the credit card receipt. The chef with the fingers replied, “No, they’re not seafood. They’re… little…” His brain short circuited again and he didn’t finish his sentence. Mike confided to me, “I think they’re berries.” I replied, “Well, I KNOW they’re plant matter. They AREN’T seafood.” Mike patted my arm, “We’ll go home and look it up.”
“Doug!” The girl handed back our copy of the receipt and screamed to the elusive Doug. She confided to us, “Doug will know.” Doug was a short guy with glasses. He was a good fifteen years older than the rest of the staff. He looked like the voice of authority. “Hey Doug! What are capers? They’re peppers, right?” Doug’s forehead crinkled, but his eyes were so small behind his glasses that I couldn’t see what he was thinking, “No, they’re… little.” Doug was our hero. Doug wasn’t going to choke. Doug would know the answer for us. “They’re from the south of France.” That was the answer. She turned back to us. “They’re from France,” she said definitively.
Mike and I left the restaurant. He sighed as he crushed the receipt into his left pocket, “That’s why we don’t have capers on our pizza. The people at the restaurant don’t even know what they are.”
For the record, capers are flower buds. Onions are roots, so they have no similarities to capers. I think I grouped them with onions because they are round. I think the girl behind the counter meant pepper like peppercorns, not like green peppers. I didn’t think of that when she said it, but she and Mike were the closest to correct. If allowed to bloom, pollinate and germinate, they turn into berries, but as they are commonly eaten, they are merely pretty flowers waiting to bloom.