As I think I've mentioned several times before, one of my eating quirks is that I hate hot liquids. Beverages should always be cold, in my view. And when I was a kid I used to put ice cubes in soups to cool them down, before I figured, "why bother?" and stopped eating this disappointing substance entirely. This dislike also applies to most stews, since they're at least soup-like. Anyway, whenever I've told people about this over the years, in addition to the disbelief and eye-rolling, they often ask, "What about soups that are supposed to be cold, like gazpacho?" To which I've always replied that I've never tried these, but would do so if I had the chance.
Well, that chance finally arrived. The Food Lion supermarket in Eden, North Carolina had gazpacho. A 500 ml. (16.9 ounce) carton, distributed by a company that I've discussed several times before, the New Jersey-based Goya. Goya only distributed though--the gazpacho was actually made in Spain (perhaps on a plain, I don't know). And, because of gazpacho's nature I didn't even need to heat it up on a stove or in a microwave--all I had to do was open the top.
The origins of gazpacho are quite murky. The Southern Spanish region of Andalusia is always given credit, but the "when" is extremely conjectural. Some think that Roman soldiers introduced a precursor to it roughly 2000 years ago, others maintain it was a North African-inspired dish, from between about A.D. 700 to the late 1400's. Part of the problem is that what's referred to as gazpacho can be many different things. The oldest version is thought to have been a makeshift, rough soup consisting of stale bread, water, olive oil, and garlic. But modern versions are very diverse--many of the different cities in Andalusia have their own specific takes on this soup. Some of the various ingredients used include avocado, parsley, watermelon, cucumber, grapes, bell peppers, onion, wine vinegar, meat stock, and seafood. The color can range from red, to green, to white. Finally, in the 19th century many cooks started using tomatoes in it. This type, associated with the city of Seville, has become the best known one, especially outside of Spain. Even the name "gazpacho" is wrapped in mystery. Some think its Greek in origin, other Arabic. The Hebrew word "gazez," which means, "break into little pieces" is another contender. So too is the Latin word "caspa," which similarly means "little pieces" or "fragments." Finally, the nutrition of most versions of gazpacho is impressive too, with all of the veggies. Some refer to it as "liquid salad."
The kind I had was obviously the popular, Seville-based one, as it was made from tomatoes, green and red peppers, cucumbers, olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, and salt. It was clearly professionally blended, as I couldn't really pick out recognizable chunks of specific vegetables. It was red, of course, and looked like tomato juice. The package said it was commonly eaten both out of a bowl like regular soup, or drunk out of a glass as a thick beverage. I tried it both ways. Also, I had mine chilled, as I'd put it in the fridge several days before. To my astonishment, I enjoyed it. It wasn't great, but it was decent. Nicely tangy and spicy, and refreshing. I had no trouble finishing the entire carton.
I know this sounds strange, but this experience was oddly traumatic for me. Previously I've always hated tomato soup, V-8, etc., in addition to loathing soups in general. It was a similar reaction to my liking butter beans (a type of lima bean) back in my December 16, 2017 post. It's almost a challenge to my very identity. I don't know who I am anymore!
But, more seriously, I've added at least one soup to my list of acceptable foods. I'll also have renewed interest in trying other cold soups, like the Korean changuk (aka naengguk), the French vichyssoise, the Russian okroshka, and the other Spanish kin of gazpacho, such as salmorejo, pipirrana cojondongo, porra antequerana, and ajoblanco.
I won't, however, retry any hot soups anytime soon. Save at the point of a weapon, or in a starvation situation. I haven't changed THAT much.