One of my favorite things to do every morning is to read El País, the Spanish newspaper. I enjoy seeing how its version of the news is often quite different from the American perspective; just the titles speak volumes. Take Novak Djokovic’s victory over Matteo Berrettini in the recent Wimbledon final. The New York Times, sticking to the historical facts, said: “Novak Djokovic Wins Wimbledon, and His 20th Career Grand Slam Title;” compared to the edgier “Djokovic: Me considero el mejor, por eso estoy aquí” (I consider myself the best, that’s why I’m here) of El País. But nothing like the feisty attitude of The Philadelphia Inquirer: “20 Slams! Djokovic ties Federer, Nadal,” and its similar brashness the same day of “Italy Wins Euro 2020, Beats England in Penalty Shootout.” It’s worth noting that El País made a political statement of Italy’s European Cup win: “Italia, nueva bandera de Europa” (Italy, Europe’s new flag). I’ll leave the different narratives in the more serious political news for another occasion…
For me one of the most memorable and unexpected articles in El País was “Nace el gazpacho del siglo XXI” (The twenty-first century gazpacho is born). It stated that the traditional tomato, garlic, onion and cucumber are no longer necessary in a gazpacho. The only indispensable ingredients are “oil, vinegar, salt and bread.” According to this piece, we need to use our imagination and utilize “watermelon, strawberries, cherries, pumpkin, mango, leeks, tofu…” The article went on to mention the most creative gazpachos created by famous Spanish chefs: lobster by El Bulli, for example.
I decided to experiment and was quite successful with a strawberry and green onion gazpacho, but, being a literature professor, I had to deconstruct a traditional recipe like melon and prosciutto, to up the ante. Here is my recipe for Twenty-First Century Gazpacho:
1 honeydew melon, chilled and cut in small pieces
2 slices French bread, soaked in water
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
Fresh basil and mint to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Prosciutto or Jamón Serrano, thinly cut and chopped
Puree all the ingredients, except the prosciutto, in a blender in two batches
Serve cold in small bowls as an appetizer, garnishing with the prosciutto or Jamón.
Serve the leftovers as an amuse-bouche in tequila glasses.
The last time I served this gazpacho, my friends couldn’t guess the ingredients; they speculated from zucchini to avocado to kale, because of its green color, and they all raved about it. The scariest part of this recipe is that we are almost a fourth into the twenty-first century and I have to switch from deconstruction to existentialism. Time is indeed going faster as we get older. It’s as if we had pushed the fast-forward button on the VCR. Wait, do people still have VCRs or is it a matter of pushing the button on the remote? Maybe only my culinary skills are au courant and have made the transition to the twenty-first century!