Some of us are fortunate enough to take advantage of air travel, I myself feel that sometimes when an opportunity presents itself to have a first hand experience of authentic food, culture and regional cuisine we should grasp it with both hands. If we are lucky to have these breaks to discover other parts of the world these culinary moments do not have to be an expensive one and you can easily take advantage of local food and culture, very cheaply if you branch out away from the sea of tourists.
A food experience can be just as good as if not sometimes even better when you sample various versions of a dish that is considered traditional to find yourself with a better understanding of the cuisine and expectations. The first time I ate gazpacho it was in soaring heat, in an authentic, some what traditional area. The gazpacho tasted refined and with traditional Andalusian flare. The favours were soothing and I understood why people from Andalusia only eat gazpacho in the summer as it was the perfect time for something refreshing and tantalizing in 40 degree heat. If I didn’t try gazpacho for the first time in a location that was unfamiliar it wouldn’t have created the same sensory experience or attachment.
For instance, going to Britain and having your first, eagerly awaited fish and chips on the sea front in wet, grey-skies, wrapped up warm and sat on a pebbled beach having your first wonderful awakening to fluffy fish and golden chips. The result…heaven to a culture for which has to be experienced once in your life. Emotionalism aside, life is like a journey to food, encountering dishes for the first time in countries they are famous for and to create an unforgettable sensory memory that you can relive from time to time.
So, I can say with great certainty that my gazpacho experience is as authentic as it can be, living here in Granada. It is a dish I never thought I’d enjoy, but now I cannot live without and introduced me to a better understanding of Spanish regional cuisine.
500 grams vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered
1 small, green Italian pepper
1 sprig fresh mint
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Freshly ground (Maldon) sea salt and pepper to season
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (a soft, fruity flavour is best), plus additional for garnish
1/2 teaspoon sherry
1 pinch of sugar
1 medium avocado, diced (to garnish)
2 baby cucumbers, diced (to garnish)
In a blender, blend the tomatoes, mint, green Italian pepper, salt, pepper, sherry and olive oil until a smooth purée.
Add to a large ceramic mixing bowl or pot for storing.
Cover and chill in a fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight if you have time. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Ladle into bowls and garnish with diced cucumber and avocado. Drizzle with a thread of olive oil and a sprinkle of Maldon salt and slurp away.