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Cadaqués, Spain

In the Pedro Almodóvar movie Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), Pepa, played by Carmen Maura, is pregnant, has just been dumped by her married boyfriend and not really feeling so well about her life in general…so what does she do?  She makes gazpacho soup in her blender.

Though…she does add an extra ingredient:  a bottle of Valium to end it all.

As the movie continues with various characters moving in and out of her apartment and getting in the way of her original plans the gazpacho soup becomes a center point in the plot (or plots) of the story.  I love this movie and I love gazpacho soup (minus the Valium).

I first came across gazpacho soup in a small cookbook on Mexican Cookery by Rita Davenport and illustrated by De Grazía, one of my favorite Southwestern artists.  It calls for tomato juice; I used V-8, never considering using fresh tomatoes until I saw Pepa make hers.  The rest of the ingredients: cucumber, onion, bell pepper, one large tomato, garlic and parsley are all finely chopped and added to the tomato juice along with salad oil, wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.  Instead of parsley I would use cilantro and I found that a small can of finely minced clams added a really good flavor and texture to it.  I also would garnish it with chopped avocado when I was ready to eat it.  Letting it sit over night in the frig helped bring out all the flavors.

My husband just couldn’t get into eating a soup cold and I couldn’t get into heating this one up so making Gazpacho soup has been a special treat for me and sometimes to share with friends.

When I lived in Costa Rica I had to buy 10 small V-8 cans since they didn’t sell it in the larger ones.  It’s been years though since I have made gazpacho soup.  I really don’t know why especially since I now grow tomatoes every season in my garden here in Illinois and this year with the drought they have been really producing.  I will blend them for freezing instead for use in the winter for sauce.

Then I went to Costa Brava, Spain.  Whenever the menu had gaspatxo on it I would order it.  I was curious to see how it was made and tasted.  All were blended to a smooth texture making it difficult to know what, other than tomato, was in it.  One had a more vinegary taste to it and another something like Greek olives while others were blander.

     Gazpacho Soup in Cadaqués, Spain

So when I returned home I made my own using the last of the bumper crop of roma tomatoes.  Going by memory I added to the blender a peeled and seeded cucumber, a seeded bell pepper, 2 garlic cloves, a bit of cayenne pepper and salt.  From the garden I also added some fresh basil and rosemary.  Then I added tomatoes to fill up the blender.  I didn’t remove any seeds or the peels from the tomatoes. I also didn’t blend it smooth.  I like it a bit “rustica.”  I garnished it with chopped chives from the garden and eat it with Greek olives and toasted baguette.  It was great but even better the next day when the fresh garlic and cayenne pepper kicked in.

      Homemade Gazpacho Soup

Going through my many cookbooks I found several versions, one even called for adding water to it and cooking it before chilling.  I also found a version that used almonds instead of tomatoes for its base.

Personally, I believe gazpacho soup is what the maker wants it to be as long as it is served chilled and with a tomato base.  That’s what I encountered in Costa Brava and that’s what I do in my own kitchen…

 ¡Disfrute!

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Arriving in Barcelona at 8:30 a.m. tired after a very uncomfortable and long flight we (Lanora Mueller and myself) took a cab to our hotel; Sheraton’s Four Points on Avenida Diagonal 161-163. (Very comfortable beds!) The hotel is located in an area of Barcelona called Poblenou, which is Catalan for “New Village.”

Right out the front entrance of the hotel is Rambla del Poblenou a tree-lined street that has a wide center for walking, eating, and sitting.  As with the other ramblas in Barcelona, this one leads from the sea towards the mountains.  Hungry and in need of euros, we walked along Rambla del Poblenou first looking for an ATM (there are several) and then a place to eat (there are many choices on each block).  The street is made up of interesting buildings that define the history of this beautiful rambla.

         

Ramble del Poblenou began as an industrial textile area in the mid 1800’s; suffered decline; was taken over by squatters and artists who moved into the abandoned buildings; and then in the 1990’s because of the 1992 Olympics it went through a new restoration that has helped define what it is today—a new village that has a vibrant community and a mixture of different architectural styles from the 1800’s to the 21st century.

          

This vibrant neighborhood with easy access to public transportation was a great place to begin our trip of Costa Brava Spain and ending it two weeks later where our last night was spent at La Bella Mar restaurant enjoying a glass of sangria and paella.

            

              

 ¡Disfrute!

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