April 19, 2024


Gazpacho in summer is that friend with a swimming pool, that grandmother who has four lunch boxes for you, those 10 euros that you find in your pocket just before you go out. It refreshes, nourishes and gives happiness to anyone who comes close to it. And in his culinary generosity, he does it without asking you for almost anything in return: just a few tomatoes, onion, garlic, cucumber, pepper, vinegar, water and, if you want, bread. No Norwegian registered salmon fillets, no spices from places people go to find themselves; just simple, cheap and easy to find ingredients. Because it was born from the popular classes and there it continues, several centuries later and with some changes on top of it, just as accessible as ever.

According to the Juices and Gazpachos Association of Spain, in 2021 some 70 million bottled liters of this cold soup were consumed throughout the country. A piece of information that does not include those that are made in homes, which would lead to flooding a football stadium in Madrid (to use a unit of measurement that we all understand). “In areas closely linked to this food, such as the Region of Murcia or Andalusia, the volume at the domestic level may be higher than that already manufactured,” says Javier Valle, general secretary of the aforementioned organization. All of this is a sample of the success of a recipe that today we consider traditional, but which, like so many others, has undergone variations throughout its history.

The tomato is modern

Perhaps those who today consider it heretical to add yucca to the Russian salad or miso to the broth for the paella would have given Torquemada a touch for the Ouija board when he began to add tomato to the gazpacho. Good to know: from a historical point of view, this fruit has been its main ingredient for two afternoons. We must not forget that before Columbus made a mistake at a roundabout and ended up in America, there were as many tomato plants planted in Spain as there were on a glacier in Antarctica.

“The first reference we have to gazpacho is found in the dictionary that Covarrubias wrote, printed in Madrid in 1611, but at that time it was different from what we are used to,” says Juan Cartaya, doctor in Modern History and professor at the School of Hospitality of Seville. “A certain kind of crumbs that is made with toasted bread and oil and vinegar, and some other things that are mixed with them, with which they are powdered. This is food for reapers, and for rude people, and they should have given it the name as they pleased”, it appears in the entry that Sebastián de Covarrubias dedicated to him, who in addition to being a lexicographer was a bit of a classist.

Precisely in this 17th century definition, two key aspects are pointed out: the basic ingredients and its humble origin. “It was a peasant meal, for the poor,” says Cartaya. “The products that were ground at that time, bread, oil and vinegar, show that it was a dish that sought to satisfy the stomach, rather than sitting down to enjoy it. And so it remained until many years later, fruits and vegetables that we associate with gazpacho today were included, such as tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers”.

The tipping ingredient

“There is a before and after when tomato is put on it, something that did not happen until the 19th century,” says Cartaya. According to this Sevillian historian, at that time this ingredient began to appear in recipe books, “mostly handwritten.” The printed ones, of course, collected more prestigious elaborations, not that gazpacho that the popular classes consumed.

But, as the gourmet Ana Vega points out, “around 1885, the most of the most among Madrid’s high society was drinking gazpacho at parties.” It became fashionable and suddenly everyone, poor and rich, peasants and landlords, wanted to drink that simple cold soup, and then yes, it began to appear in a multitude of cookbooks. Professor Juan Cartaya has a theory regarding the approach of the economic elite to this dish: “In the provinces of Huelva and Seville, for example, in the 19th century and early 20th century, when agricultural work was finished, the owner of the farm gave it to day laborers. It is logical to think that the owners would also try it and in the end it would become a daily food”.

That fashion, like Triumph operation or the Tamagotchi, it happened, but the gazpacho had already convinced thousands of palates of all social classes. And so it comes to the present, in which it is considered one of the classic summer dishes, although gourmets like José Berasaluce glimpse a worrying situation: “There is a shift in the hospitality of gazpacho, a symbol of the culinary identity of the south, in favor of salmorejo, which was endemic to Córdoba. It is cheaper and it keeps better, and the truth is that it is winning the battle on the menus of bars and restaurants”. The same is not true at the industrial level, where the sale of packaged goods increased by 9% in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to data from the Juices and Gazpachos Association of Spain.

“Packaged” and “tasty” can be synonymous

There are some companies that banish the idea that, if they are made in the factory, they taste like wet cardboard. If the consumption of these prepared foods grows continuously, it is due, in large part, to companies such as Salsas de Salteras or New Way Food, which sell quite tasty and balanced gazpachos under the García Millán and Majao brands, respectively. Both are located in the province of Seville and sell their products fresh, that is, without subjecting them to pasteurization, a thermal process that eliminates possible pathogens but at the same time alters the organoleptic properties. “We manufacture cold, and when it comes out of the filling we keep it at a temperature between 0 and 1ºC and we seal it in a protective atmosphere. This is how we get it to be fresh and have 33 days of durability”, explains Antonio Castaño, director of marketing from Majao.

Another of the essential aspects to achieve a result that could seem homemade is, according to Castaño, always using the same variety of tomato, pepper and cucumber, “just as to maintain the quality of a wine, you must always use the same types of grape”. Likewise, it indicates that “the order in which you make the recipe” is also essential, which in the case of this brand has remained a secret since in 1940 Reyes Ruiz, the grandmother of the current managers, began to prepare it in the Sevillian Venta Ruiz .

“Gazpacho is nutritious and refreshing, and can be consumed all year round. I am sorry that it disappears unfairly every September 1”, says José Berasaluce, director of the master’s degree in Management and Innovation of Gastronomic Culture at the University of Cádiz. And whether homemade or from the boat, in October or May, it is worth having a drink of this cold soup that is so much ours, so everyone’s, for centuries.

Chef Dani García’s gazpacho recipe

Ingredients for 4 people)

  • ½ kilo of ripe tomatoes
  • 1 piece of bread
  • ½ clove of garlic
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ onion
  • Sherry vinager
  • Salt
  • Olive oil


  • Blend the ripe tomatoes, garlic, green pepper, bread and onion in a food processor or blender.
  • Gradually add the olive oil, sherry vinegar and salt.
  • Pass through a fine strainer and chill in the fridge.

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