Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Gazpacho reinvented - fresh summer ideas

Figs and prawns, anyone?
ANDALUCÍA With the possible exception of inhabitants of distant planets, everyone knows gazpacho - liking it is an option. Speaking of options, the word gazpacho originally defined  a 'mixture', without specifically mentioning tomatoes, olive oil, garlic or cucumber, or anything else. This, then, offers the possibility of alternative ingredients. And it is not surprising that these come from the birthplace of gazpacho (well, one of the places claiming so, but more on this later) the Barceló Renacimiento Hotel in Sevilla, where a special menu of five cold soups has been designed by the hotel's senior Chef, José Antonio González. The variations include>>>roasted yellow peppers and yellow cucumbers and tomatoes - this will, naturally, produce a yellow gazpacho. The strawberry one gets very soft tomatoes and red peppers (redder-than-usual?), while another version uses carrots, lemon juice, cumin and oregano.

González's most original variation, though, uses basil, green tomatoes, apple vinegar and pepper. He says that his variations are 'nutritive and refreshing' and, abobve all, low in calories - about which he mentions 'operation bikini'.

Another cook doing things with gazpacho is Ángel León, who uses the offerings of the sea near his Aponiente restaurant in El Puerto de Santa María. He uses an algae known as the "lettuce of the sea". 'It's a very light algae, easy to eat, but which will give the dish an even fresher touch, a subtle suggestion of the sea.

On the Canary Islands is Alexis Álvarez, who uses local resources for his restaurant, Los Guayres, at Puerto de Mogan on Gran Canaria. His vision of gazpacho includes a Canarian version of prickly pears called tunos. This becomes a sweeter-than-regular-gazpacho cold soup that is accompanied by Brunoise tomato vinaigrette and spring onions, a Fuji apple sorbet and king prawns. "The tunos can be replaced by the large cherries called picotas," says Álvarez. "They will also give the dish the dark red colour, too."

Other more traditional variations, or 'mixes', from the cuisine of Andalucía include the ajoblanco made with garlic, oil, bread and almonds or pine nuts and seen mainly in Málaga and Granada; and the salmorejo of Córdoba, which is thicker than the normal gazpacho, doesn't use water but more bread.

Are any of these a gazpacho? Only if defined as a mixture, even when it is said that there are as many recipes for 'normal' gazpacho as there people making it.

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