Capesante means “scallop” in Italian, but the word itself seems to have come from the Old French word escalope meaning “shell.” Scallops were first mentioned in print in 1280, when Marco Polo wrote about scallops being one of the various seafood sold in China’s marketplace. In other research, it states that scallops have been recorded more than 400-million years ago during the Cambrian period. It is said that large scallops were most plentiful in the Mediterranean Sea and I’ll take their word for it.
I was not able to pinpoint when Italians started using scallops in their dishes, however through my exploring it seems that many cultures in the same region ate scallops…the only generalized time frame I can find is “since the dawn of time.” I guess that sums that up.
So here to scallops! A saint, St. James, even used a scallop shell as his emblem. In medieval times people would take a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostele in Spain wearing the scallop shell on their clothes…If it is good enough for a saint, well then it must be good enough for everyone!
Check out our recipe for Strangozzi con le Capesante and our wine pairings to compliment the dish.
Donna Picciocchi, Editor