The Man and I had the great good fortune to be befriended by two Sevillanos on the plane from London. Nacho and Elena were truly generous hosts, showing us their Seville and insisting on taking us to the locals’ favourite beach for the day. Green water, white sand, lunch at a ciringito (beach taverna) and Africa on the horizon- bliss!
Elena also gave me detailed instruction in how to prepare the Andalucian cold tomato soup, gazpacho.
It should be orange, she said, not red. And it should be totally pureed with no lumps. Gazpacho is a drink, Elena said, it should not be thick, like the kind she had seen on sale on holiday in London, but it should have body. Using a thick slice of good, crusty bread is important to give it texture. The main individual variations are in the use of garlic and vinegar – although there was a debate at the lunch table over the inclusion, or not, of cucumber.
Elena was keen for me to try gazpacho and ordered it at the ciringito. Below is a pic:
For someone who has never been able to eat raw tomato, it’s odd that gazpacho is my new favourite thing. It’s the perfect food for hot, hot, hot weather and especially after a week of too many deep-fried jamon croquettes.
Here is a picture of my gazpacho, made to Elena’s instructions:
And this is Elena’s gazpacho (for 2 people):
Soak a thick slice of good, crusty bread in cold water, to a depth of about a finger above the bread.
Blanch and peel 1kg of ripe tomatoes. Chop (the seeds are OK). Put in with the bread.
Peel a cucumber (the small seedless/ Lebanese kind, not the enormous English ones). Chop and add to the bread and tomato.
Chop and add 1 small or half a large green pepper, the long narrow ones, not the fat capsicums.
Add 1 clove crushed garlic and a spoon of vinegar.
Add half a water glass olive oil (Elena says this is v important for texture and flavour)
Puree all to a smooth consistency. Taste and adjust the vinegar and salt (no pepper). Also check for the amount of water, which can come from an ice cube in the bowl. Chill and serve in tall glasses or small bowls.
Muchos gracias Elena!!!