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With its origins in the south of Andalusia, Gazpacho is a Spanish delicacy which has since risen to culinary prominence. A cold tomato-based soup containing raw vegetables, it is eaten extensively in Spain, Portugal and in some parts of Latin America and is one of the best known dishes to originate from Spain.
Origin of Gazpacho
Despite its popular presence in modern Spanish cuisine, Gazpacho is thought to have a historic legacy. Some claim it arrived in Spain in 711AD with the Moorish tribes who ate a soup consisting of olive oil, garlic, water and bread; others theorize it was even earlier, asserting that it was the Romans who brought Gazpacho to Spain due to their almost identical soup to that of the Moors, except with the added ingredient of vinegar.
Having planted its roots in Spain, Gazpacho soon became part of the repertoire of Andalusian cuisine, being eaten particularly in the city of Seville. The staple ingredients of Gazpacho Andaluz are tomato, bell pepper, salt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, stale bread and water. Other favoured versions of the dish are salmorejo and ajoblanco, although Gazpacho Andaluz remains the most widely consumed of all. Due to its refreshing Gazpacho was commonly eaten among field workers as a way of cooling down during warm days and continues to be eaten during the hotter months. Such is the popularity of Gazpacho, it is even served in mainstream food outlets like McDonalds, bringing a much needed healthy option to the menu.
One of the characteristics of Gazpacho which has aided in its long-term popularity is its versatility and there are a number of contemporary variations of the traditional recipe. For example, some choose to omit the tomatoes and add a different ingredient, such as avocado, parsley, cucumber, grapes, watermelon, seafood or meat stock. In addition to the primary ingredients listed above, other garnishes can also be added to Gazpacho in order to alter the flavour, such as hard boiled eggs and ham. Given the limitless variations of the dish, Gazpacho has almost become an umbrella term for ‘chilled vegetable soup’.
Part of the Mediterranean Diet
Not only does Gazpacho have a deliciously uplifting taste, but it also carries a number of health benefits. Tomatoes, which traditionally constitute the base of this dish, contain a high level of the antioxidant lycopene which is thought to provide protection from some of the cancers present in males. Furthermore, researchers have established a link between eating Gazpacho and the lowering of blood prblood pressure, claiming that even eating the ingredients which compose it separately can contribute to a reduced blood pressure level. Other health benefits of Gazpacho include aiding the purification of the blood system and body tissues, as well as improving general eye health due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
From its ever-evolving identity to its numerous health benefits, Gazpacho has inspired culinary creativity in Spain and remains one of the country’s oldest and best loved foods. It is certain that such a versatile and appetizing dish will continue to be experimented with and enjoyed for many years to come.