martes, 17 de octubre de 2017

Gazpacho was one of Gerald Brenan's favourite dishes

Brenan tells us about culinary customs in his book, South from Granada (1974). Our diet is based on three main ingredients: wheat, olive and vine, as well as legumes, vegetables, fruits, fish, meats, cheeses, nuts, etc.

One of Brenan's masters, Richard Ford (1844), thought Spanish cuisine was very primitive and garlic-based, popular with peasants. Garlic was considered medicinal since antiquity, but it was not suitable for delicate stomachs and its smell was very strong. So Ford concludes that it is the dose that makes the medicine or the poison, and he was captivated by some dishes of local gastronomy as "gazpacho andaluz."

The origin of  "gazpacho" is very old, its antecedent may be Roman, the salmorium was a cold cream, it was obtained by crushing salt with bread, garlic and oil. They sometimes added almonds or other nuts. The delicious "ajoblanco" from Málaga is among its variants, it is based on almonds and garlic, which you have with "moscatel" grapes (100 g raw and peeled almonds, 2 garlic cloves, 200 g stale white bread, 100 ml  olive oil, 1 litre of cold water, some vinegar and salt, mix all the ingredients, and the cream is served with the grapes). The gazpacho would change its colour with the presence of the tomato, which is brought back by Christopher Columbus from the New World.

Gerald follows the line of his predecessor, and he enjoyed this cold soup until the last days of his life, typical of farmers, in the summer (1 kg of red tomatoes, two cloves of garlic, a green or red pepper, some bread, salt, olive oil, vinegar and fresh water to taste, all mixed and crushed to drink). With the same ingredients, if we increase the amount of bread and olive oil, and we eliminate the water, we obtain a cream of tomato that is called "porra antequerana" in Antequera and "salmorejo" in Córdoba, which is served with boiled egg and ham Iberian. And "gazpachuelo" is a soup with a poached egg floating among small pieces of bread on a mixture of hot water with homemade mayonnaise (vinegar, salt, garlic, egg and olive oil).

The bread preferred by the upper classes was white wheat flour. The poor usually ate whole wheat  bread, corn or black rye bread, which had the advantage of being tenderer. In those times few people ate meat every day, except on holidays. And the fish was cheaper: sardines, anchovies, mackerels, yellow jacks, octopus, cuttlefish, etc.

Brenan learned to appreciate our diet, divine treasure, over time. In addition, he enjoyed long walks and he worked in his garden. Brenan died at ninety-two years old.

Paradoxically, the elemental diet of peasants has turned out to be healthier, in addition to physical activity, and has given people who live longer and in better conditions.

In 1944 Dr. Stoll would demonstrate the bactericidal power of garlic thanks to a substance called Aliina. And in 2010 the Mediterranean Diet was declared as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

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