Grapes alone are deliciously snaccable, but these recipes show just how wonderful they can be for cooking
Grapes are so ancient that their vines conquered the world long before people were on the planet. Pretty much since our arrival, however, we have been tinkering with them: for example, in the Piedmont Mountains of Italy you can still see evidence of late Bronze Age vineyard posts used to train grapevines. And for almost as long, we have been trying to find a way to make grapes bigger, sweeter. Girdling, a practice in use since the ancient Greeks, can pump up grape size up to 30 percent. The process involves removing a ring of outer and inner bark around the trunk to restrict the flow of sugars from the leaves to the root. As a result, those sugars stay up top so the grapes get bigger and sweeter. To fatten grapes even more, some farmers spray them with a growth hormone that naturally occurs in grape seeds. The hormone is safe enough that its use still allows for an organic label.
Red, purple or green, plump or petite, grapes are a healthy pop-in-your-mouth snack. But don’t overlook their cooking potential. Small and juicy with hints of acid and sweet, they are perfect food partners. Scattered on focaccia, they subtly sweeten each bite. And mixed into an o r z o salad, grapes dance with feta and onion in a sumptuous taste tango