The origins of gazpacho andaluz are mysterious, and like most things from our past have never been truly documented. What writing does exist is filled with inaccuracies, but the general consensus is that the pre-Roman Andalucians (Ibericelts) were making something akin to Gazpacho in Phoenician (and Carthiginian) times. Although, to really confuse matters so were pre-Roman Italian peninsula peoples.
In fact, a cold meal of stale bread, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and water is common in the bread eating cultures surrounding the Mediterranean, the concept is even alluded to in the Old Testament book of Ruth (2.14) “’Come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.”
To confuse matters even more, the tomato plant is from South America and didn’t get to Europe until after the Spanish Conquest of the Americas from 1492 onwards… Ummm… anyway, less about that and more about the recipe :)
Jamie Oliver Gazpacho
Renowned British chef Jamie Oliver was in Ronda in 2009 filming his TV show ‘Jamie Does… Andalucía’. He loved the traditional Ronda recipe, though in Spain gazpacho andaluz is a summer dish eaten cold, and most Rondeños would never eat gazpacho in the cooler months or in winter.
Typically, a gazpacho andaluz is treated like a drink, rather than a soup needing spoons. Jamie’s recipes can be a drink or a soup depending on the consistency. It is possible that the Jamie recipe owes some allegiance to an ancient recipe developed in pre-Roman times.
Jamie has another recipe for gazpacho which he mentions in one of his books. He uses a chicken or vegetable stock base instead of tomatoes, and is a modern twist on gazpacho that changes the soup completely. He caramelizes garlic and onion for the flavour, and adds almonds and oranges to his modern recipe, and the taste is delicious. (But its not gazpacho!)
Rondeños like to argue about food, and we doubt Jamie will ever convince them to call his modern recipe an authentic gazpacho, certainly while Jamie was in Ronda he delighted in trying the traditional gazpacho recipe, but this recipe is always better when it’s made at home with your own special touches to add a unique flavour. The base recipe for gazpacho is always the same, but no two chefs will ever create the same soup.
Jamie Oliver’s Gazpacho Recipe
The ingredients for Jamie Oliver’s gazpacho are;
• Five large ripe tomatoes
• 200g bread (not fresh) without the crust
• Six inches of peeled and chopped cucumber
• One chopped green bell pepper (pimiento)
• Two garlic cloves
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Ground Black Pepper
First, prick the tomatoes and cover them for 30 minutes with boiling water then peel. Blend the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and garlic. Add with the bread, and blend again. Add a third of a cup of olive oil, and a splash of sherry. Mix with a spoon. Season with salt and black pepper. Chill and serve cold with a flourish of cucumber and parsley.
While he was in Ronda, Jamie Oliver stayed at the Hotel La Fuente de la Higuera near Ronda, in the exclusive private villa reserved for celebrities.
Traditional Andalucian Gazpacho (The real recipe :)
Gazpacho is a traditional cold tomato soup eaten in the summer months in Andalucia, and has a long history of providing sustenance to workers during the long hot summer days. During the winter months a warm version of Gazpacho is also made. There is also a thicker soup similar to Gazpacho, known as Porra.
The Moorish invaders of Spain quickly adopted the idea of a cold soup during the hot summer days for themselves, and then refined and perfected the recipe to suit their palate better, an example being the white Gazpacho made with garlic and either cucumber or asparagus.
We shouldn’t be surprised then if the history of Gazpacho is filled with wonderful stories, but traditional Andalucian Gazpacho as served in Ronda is a comparatively new recipe created after the first tomatoes and peppers were introduced to Spain by traders from the Americas.
Traditional Ronda Recipe for Gazpacho
• 1 kg of seasoned ripe tomatoes
• 2 whole cucumber
• 1 chopped onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 6 tablespoons of vinegar
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 green peppers
• 1 loaf of bread crumbed (about 250 grams)
• 1.5 litres of water
Traditional bread in Andalucia is baked in small loaves about half the size of a modern loaf of bread, so about 250 grams of bread crumbs is the right quantity. Soak them in some water, not too much, just enough to cover them, then let it sit until all the water has been soaked up.
Blend the tomatoes, one of the cucumbers, the onion, the garlic, and one of the green peppers and add the breadcrumbs until a consistent mix has been created.
Next, add half the water, the oil, the vinegar and season with salt and continue to blend for a moment. Place the completed mixture into a large bowl or jug and allow to stand for a few hours.
Serve in small bowls or large drinking glasses with the remaining cucumber and green pepper chopped on a side plate.
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