Viva Italia! (Insalata Caprese)

This is my favourite lunch in the entire world.

Insalata Caprese, or Caprese salad. What you see in the photo is what you get in the salad: lusciously sweet plum tomatoes, creamy buffalo milk mozzarella, and fragrant basil. I like to dress mine with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and then sop up the liquid with some kind of bread. It is my idea of a perfect, light and delectable midday meal.

Now, some time ago, I heard that this salad inspired the colours of the Italian flag, or Il Tricolore, with the basil, mozzarella and tomato representing the three stripes. It sounded like a plausible theory at the time, and since I'm fairly certain I was filled with Chianti, my critical thinking skills were probably not the sharpest. So, I set out on a quest to find out whether this theory was indeed true.

What I did find out didn't bring any clarity to my quest. Officially, the Italian Tricolore was adopted in 1848 during the Napoleonic Wars, and was styled after the French flag. This version had a crest of royal arms in the centre which was removed when Italy became a republic in 1948. These are the facts, but still before us lies the fictions:

- That the colours are symbolic, with white representing peace, red for bravery, and green for hope and joy
- That red is for the blood spilt in the italian independence war, white is the snowy Alps, and green for the country's plains and hills
- That they are part of the three holy Christian virtues, with red for charity, white for faith and green for charity
- That they came from the uniforms of Milanese soldiers who wore green and white with touches of red
- That Napoleon gave them this flag and chose the colours because he liked them

As there is no definitive answer, the Caprese theory is just as plausible as any other. (So, I'll continue to believe it!) It's also interesting to note that many of my favourite Italian foods contain the Il Tricolor, such as pizza Margherita, and spaghetti pomodoro. Regardless of how the colours came to be, the taste of Caprese salad brings me to the fresh mountainsides of Italia every time. Grazi! 


  1. I'm a fan too - love how fresh Insalata Caprese and being a cheese lover makes it even more of a pleasure! Sopping up the luscious juices that remain after the salad's gone is definitely part of the charm!

    I was told the flag inspired the salad!! LOL


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