I was about 22-years-old when I had my first encounter with gazpacho. I was working 4 part-time jobs, and had just finished my last of the day. Since my dinners usually consisted of top ramen with some veggies and an egg, or some pasta with marinara sauce, I was excited by the prospect of my boss (and friend) deciding to take me to dinner with her husband at a nearby bar. I spied a cucumber soup on the menu, which sounded intriguing (and also cheap). I was very hungry, but didn’t want to take advantage of my friend’s kind offer to feed me by ordering something more extravagant from the menu. I suppose I should have taken the words “served chilled” more seriously, for I was met with a cold and rather unappetizing puddle of green mush. I tried my damnedest to finish that bowl of cold soup, but just couldn’t do it.
After conversations with my partner about the mysterious popularity of gazpacho, I’ve decided that I really should like it. After all, I enjoy Bloody Mary’s and V-8; cold vegetable drinks consumed through a straw or can.
Perhaps the reason I dislike gazpacho is because of the word “soup” used in its description. Choosing to ignore the word, however, does not seem to help. It is always served in a bowl, accompanied with a spoon. You are supposed to eat it with a spoon.
Now, when I think of things I enjoy eating with a spoon, I think of hot liquids best had on chilly evenings or frozen desserts usually containing the words “ice” and/or “cream,” but this particular dish fits into neither category. I’m so thrown off by the whole presentation of it.
A childhood memory that most reminds me of this involves a cousin, a fairly new immigrant to the US at the time, who asked if I’d like some pizza. Pizza was my favorite food, and I eagerly answered that I would. A few minutes later, he returned with a plate of saltines, individually topped with ketchup and Kraft American “cheese.” It was not good. To be fair, I may have actually liked it if it had not been called “pizza.” I liked all of the ingredients, independently of each other.
I would be willing to give gazpacho another go if it stopped trying to be a soup and relocated from its dome home to a tall glass, possibly with an umbrella toothpick adorning it.
Ever watch the episode of the Simpsons, where the kids become the foster children of the Flanders? Ned presents the children with “Nachos, Flanders-style” – sliced cucumbers topped with cottage cheese. The kids are excited to eat the nachos for a split-second, then they get a good look at them. Bart takes a bite and ends up spitting it up. That is how these foods make me feel. Excitement, followed by disappointment.