Gazpacho 101.4, the final and best gazpacho in the world
I´ve been a little neglectful of the blog lately. First, there was the wedding. Then, Real Madrid won the league, which you must admit, called for all sorts of celebrations. Then, regrettably, I actually had to work, and pretty hard, too. So anyway, after all this, finally...(drumroll)...the ultimate gazpacho. The one and only. The very unorthodox, very delicious, by now quite famous gazpacho as served at the old ancestral home.
If I phrase it like that it´s because the old ancestor, my mother, whatever her other talents, doesn´t much go into the kitchen. All the years that my mother worked outside the house, and still now that she works from home, the undisputed queen bee of the kitchen has been Escolástica. All those years she´s been cook, housekeeper, philosopher and friend. Now she´s officially retired, but still spends time with us every once in a while. And she is the one to whom all credits must go when we´re talking about the best gazpacho in the world (and a bunch of other stuff, of course). I´ve never known anyone with such a keen eye for a situation, and a vaster repertoire of anecdote, saying, refrán or poetic advice. She´s amazing. And she whips egg whites with a fork!
If you saw me in the kitchen now, you´d think, aha, yes, this one has evidently been reading a lot of Nigella, a fair amount of Nigel, the Barefoot Contessa and probably a lot of food blogs from all over. And you´d be right, as to the recipes. But the moves? All taught to me by Escolástica. The real things, the ones that that have to be instilled so that they become second nature. Which happens more easily if somebody´s around to drum them into you while young. You´ll find few books that tell you, every single time until you do it without thinking, to wash your hands before you start. To tie the apron just so. To make sure the oven´s empty before you turn it on. To be careful not to let the pan handles stick out of the work surface. To mix the baking powder into the flour first. To put bottle stoppers and lids back on straight away, in case you knock them over (and I do, a lot), and to scrape bowls really really well, so that not a drop of sauce or blob of dough is wasted.
I´ve always liked to hang out in kitchens. Usually to snap the ends of bagettes before lunch, to doodle on the whiteboard, obliterating all the phone messages, to nick the odd fried tidbit straight out of the pan and eat it while blowing on it and making it jump in my fingers. And to lick spoons. A little pain in the neck, basically, but hang around somewhere long enough and they´ll let you play. Sepparating eggs, maybe, or wheighing the flour, and so on until now.
If I don´t try to replicate any of her recipes it´s because I´ve tried, and they´re only pale copies. And because it´s much easier to just walk over to the motherhouse and snaffle the food as it comes out of the frying pan. I still get the same affectionate smack on the back of the wrist, and the mysterious refrain "cata Emiliana cata Zacarías cata Pichi".
The gazpacho, however, is pretty straightforward. But bear in mind that Esco is one of those people who can be infuriatingly vague when giving instructions. There´s a lot of "when it looks ok" and "just throw however much you think it needs".
El gazpacho de Escolástica
1kg of ripe fresh tomatoes
half a medium onion
2 green peppers (the long thin kind)
1/2 cup olive oil
and here´s where it starts to get interesting
1 half kilo TIN of plum tomatoes(¡), juice and all
1 raw egg
Blend all this, if you have a Thermomix two minutes at 5-7-9, and if not, until it´s very well blended. Strain through the chinoise. And then, once it´s in the bowl, add the vinegar and salt, tasting as you go.
This gazpacho is salmon pink, insanely rich and velvety and oh-so-good.
If you´re nervous about raw eggs then you probably don´t deserve to eat it at all, but know that you can mimic a similar effect with bottled mayonaise.