Gazpacho. Linger over the word. Taste it on your mental palate. It’s the taste of summer, the taste of ripe fulfillment. Dip your spoon into the richness of the essence of tomato.
Gazpacho. Nothing like it.
One of my favorite scenes in Pedro Almodóvar’s great film, ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ is when Carmen Maura throws together a kind of kindergarten version of gazpacho—tomato juice, olive oil , a few cloves of garlic and salt in a blender. Better than a year of therapy for the stressed out Maura.
One of my most memorable gazpachos was at a beachfront restaurant in Sanlucar, one of the sherry towns of Spain. We were having lunch with José Ignacio Domecq, Jr. of Pedro Domecq of the Domecq sherry family.
The restaurant, Mirador Doñana, (www.miradordonana.com) overlooks the beach and, as the name suggests, the Parque Nacional de Doñana wildlife refuge across the broad, shallow estuary of the Rio Guadalquivir, the ‘big river’ of the Moors.
The Doñana is a major stopover for migratory birds. There are upwards of 125 species of birds that breed in the park, including 17 varieties of duck. The park is also home to the endangered Spanish lynx.
The lunch, which as you might guess featured seafood, started with a small bowl of Gazpacho, served with a glass of chilled Manzanilla, straight from the Domecq cellars.
A few days ago, a friend who is a master gardener, brought a generous gift of ripe tomatoes to my kitchen. There was nothing for it but to make Gazpacho, as you can see in the photo. (Note the frico, an Italian-style cheese crisp, on the edge of the plate.)
Gazpacho can be as simple as Carmen Maura’s in the film but it can be much better with the addition of onion, red bell pepper, maybe a little cucumber, maybe a few crusts of dried bread, some chopped cilantro, a dash of sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar. Give it a salsa beat with a Jalapeño pepper. Oh, and good olive oil. You can play around with it to suit your taste. Don’t forget the salt. The taste of summer.
If you want a recipe, just for reference, see “A Season in Spain” by Ann and Larry Walker.