RSS Feed Gazpacho Andaluz - The Foods that Define Spain

Gazpacho Andalucia is the most visited region in Spain. As well as a fantastic coastline, it contains the historic cities of Seville, Granada and Cordoba. Andalucia is also the home to the highest mountains on the Iberian peninsular, flamenco and tapas. It is, however, a different food that we profile in this article from our Foods that Define Spain series - Gazpacho.

Gazpacho is a quintessentially Andalucian dish, which has now become common throughout Spain (and further afield). Gazpacho is basically a cold tomato soup; however, the quality of the ingredients and the preparation really make the dish stand out.

History

It is thought that the idea of a cold tomato soup was brought to Andalucia during either the Moorish or Roman control of the region. The Andalucians, particularly those from Seville and Cordoba, then adapted the recipe into what is known today as Gazpacho.

Gazpacho represents many of the characteristics that define Andalucia. It contains basic ingredients; tomato, cucumber, onion, garlic, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, salt and bread. This reflects the heavily agrarian nature of Andalucian industry; although gazpacho was popular in the developed cities, it is very much a peasant food. It is simple, cheap and made entirely from local produce. The fact that Gazpacho is served cold is also reflective of the hot summers that the region experiences. It is a very refreshing dish, and is at its best when eaten in the open air.

Preparation

The preparation of gazpacho is simple; the fruit vegetables are peeled, chopped, de-seeded and then mixed together (traditionally in a pestle and morter, but more recently in a blender). Water, olive oil, vinegar and salt are then added to reach the desired consistency (bread can also be used to thicken the mixture), the soup is then chilled before serving.

Traditionally, gazpacho has quite a rough texture, with chunks of the vegetables remaining in the soup. Nowadays it is usually a smooth mixture; with chopped up vegetables and croutons added to the soup just before eating. There are many variations, some more accepted in Andalucia than others. In Cordoba, for example, it is common for gazpacho to be served with chopped egg and ham. The town of Rota in the Cadiz region makes a very thick version, with almost no water added.

Modern variations that call themselves 'gazpacho' are made with, for example, melon, avocado and meat. These, however, are basically just cold soups. They can be very tasty, but they generally lack the refreshing zesty taste of gazpacho.

Key Ingredients

Gazpacho Tomatoes form the base of gazpacho and impart the strongest flavour. The tomatoes must be fresh and very ripe (Note: The tomatoes in the above pictire are not ripe enough!). You should be able to squeeze them easily with your fingers and the flesh should be close to becoming mushy. The other important factor in the taste is the olive oil. Gazpacho is transformed from pureed vegetables into a culinary dleight when good quality extra virgin olive oil is added.

When you visit Spain, particularly Andalucia, make sure that you try gazpacho. Tasting it freshly made in a restaurant or somebody's home is a far cry from the cartons that you can buy in many supermarkerts. Sitting on a street in Seville or Granada on a hot day, with a bowl of fresh gazpacho is as authentic Andalucian experience as going to the Alhambra or watching flamenco.


If you would like to try gazpacho in Andalucia, book on our Historic Andalucia cycling holiday to the region.