The glory of gazpacho

Gazpacho. It’s the salad that eats like a soup. The solution to a gardener’s late-summer tomato glut. And, when combined with sangria and Bloody Marys, a key component in the perfect liquid diet.

Because the tastes and ingredients are familiar, gazpacho is a gateway drug for all kinds of culinary experimentation: new cuisines, new ways to prepare old favorites, or simply the idea that cold soup can be good. Sneakily feed a cup of gazpacho to your kids or your Michigan relatives, and cochinita pibil or even uni may well be the next stop.

I have three recipes for gazpacho: one simple, one comparatively complex in texture and preparation, and one that cheats with tomato juice. I have to admit that I like the tomato juice version the best because it’s the most predictable (and also cheapest when made out of season). But that’s exactly the reason you should pay no attention to my preferences.

Tomatoes vary widely in their sugar-to-acid ratio and you definitely need to taste before serving (but after chilling and allowing the flavors to mature) if you are making a predominately fresh version. Your tools are acid, salt and capsicum to round it out if the first taste seems a little flat. (Or olive oil but I go easy on the stuff, feeling that gazpacho is essentially a light refreshment.)

As they formerly said in Spain, “salud y amor y pesetas, y tiempo para gastarlos”–may you have health, love and money and time to enjoy them. Sadly, a Spanish visitor tells me they no longer use this toast because in the Euro economy nobody remembers pesetas.

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