¡Hola! The Professor with a Passport series is inspired by my love of teaching, learning, travel, and food! Less edgy than Bourdain but better looking than Phil Rosenthal, Bonnie Gasior describes herself as an educator, gardener, environmentalist, oenophile, cinephile, linguaphile, cyclist, writer, and a believer in empathy, reframing, the power of the pivot, and doing the right thing. She invites you to relive her travel experiences with her and to recreate the food that makes them memorable!
Not to be confused with the German response to a sneeze (“gesundheit”) or the German secret police (“gestapo”), gazpacho--in fact, not German at all--is a refreshing, bright, cold tomato soup from Spain infused with cucumber, peppers, olive oil and garlic. Not convinced? Skeptical? Gwyneth Paltrow, who lived in Spain for a year in her youth, once said, “I had my first bowl of gazpacho when I was fifteen in Spain, and the impression it made was a lasting one.” Indeed, that’s the impact gazpacho has on so many people who try it for the first time and become lifelong fans. I, personally, prefer Tory Burch’s extreme assessment: “I could eat gazpacho three times a day.” Yes, it’s really that good. And given that you might find yourself with an excess of tomatoes as we head into August, it just might be the culinary surprise you and your family need.
Gazpacho originated in Andalucía, southern Spain, that scorches in the summer months. You will find it on most sit-down restaurant menus throughout Spain (and now Portugal) from June through August. As I was researching the origin of the word, I found a plethora of theories, which means nobody really knows from which language or culture it originated, but many historians point to itinerant Roman soldiers. The gazpacho consumed today came into being in the nineteenth century thanks to peppers (from Mexico) and the cucumbers (from the New World region in general) during colonial times. You can read this thread for a more in-depth discussion about “gazpacho” lexicon here: Spanish: etymology of gazpacho | WordReference Forums and gazpacho’s evolution in Spanish here: Gazpacho - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre. But this isn’t a blog post about academics; it’s about making and eating one of my favorite Iberian dishes! Let’s talk gustatory systems!
There are three things that, if on any menu, I will always order: Spanish octopus, Peruvian ceviche, and gazpacho. We were in Spain in May, and I had it twice in Madrid (over two days) and probably five times in Mallorca, where we spent a week hiking. Sometimes we enjoyed it with a spoon, others we drank it with a straw (yes, this is fun and convenient, though I prefer using a utensil). In Spanish supermarkets, you can also find it sold in cartons, like milk, and on several picnic occasions, I have not hesitated to purchase it.
I’m happy to share an authentic recipe acquired from a cooking class a friend took in Mallorca in May 2022. I tried it out, and it’s legit. The only change I made was to add extra garlic (3 cloves rather than ½). You can always adjust amounts as you blend and taste.
800gr. red tomatoes, peeled, seeded (*I find the Roma variety works well; 800gr.=about 12)
80 gr red pepper, seeded (roughly 1 pepper)
80 gr. cucumber, peeled (roughly 1 medium cuke)
¼ medium onion
½ clove garlic (please add more!)
16 tbsp. EVOO (I halved this, and it was still amazing!)
A dash of white or red wine vinegar (I added a bit more than a dash!)
1 glass of cold water
Salt and pepper to taste
What to Do
Clean, peel, and cut all vegetables. Blend in a food processor. Allow gazpacho to chill in fridge for at least an hour (keep in mind that like many dishes, it’s better if it sits a day). Serve cold in a bowl with a drizzling of EVOO. The color should be closer to orange then red so do not be alarmed or surprised. I also recommend saving some of the pepper and cucumber as a garnish. Some people like a smoother gazpacho and strain the mixture before serving. I don’t mind and actually prefer my gazpacho unstrained (unrestrained?). ¡Olé!