Celestino Sánchez’s email to me was my first encounter with the name Celestino. To my great shame, I had assumed it was a girl’s name – shame, because after learning Italian for 4 months, I should have realised that -ino is a male ending in Latin languages. He, on the other hand, read my ad at his language school and for some reason assumed I was a guy. So after a long email correspondence, we had a pretty interesting first phone call…
Tino, as he is called, is a pretty good cook. He doesn’t cook with measurements or recipes: the vast amounts of salt and oil he uses are poured heartily into the bowls and pans. In order to supply the quantities written bellow I had to collect recipes from the net and try it all over again.
First Dish: Gazpacho
It was hot this week in Berlin. Air conditioners are not common here (’cause what would you do with them the rest of the year??), and people were just dripping with sweat. The atmosphere got even hotter during the World Cup finals. Spain has won the world cup; I guess I chose just the right week to have a Spanish man over to make me a cold soup.
Tino is here for the summer. He studies civil engineering in Spain, and hopes to get a job here after he graduates, so he tries to put a lot of effort into his German. He definitely chose a bad week to come here, as much as he’s concerned: It was rough to watch the Spain-Germany semifinals, in which Spain has won – but then to miss the euphoria as Spain won the cup?!
Gazpacho is served on warm days in Spain, just before the mid-day Siesta. (well, you can also have other dishes in between, but you know what I mean). It is either served as a refreshing starter or as a drink that goes along with the meal.
By the way, the only reason I write here “Gazpacho” is that this is the Spanish spelling for it. If I had to transliterate the dishes name into English phonology, at least the way Tino says it, it would have to be something like: Gaetschtspatshao. More or less. According to Wikipedia, the origins of the dish go way back, even earlier then when the Tomatoes were brought to Europe. Now how can that be? They just made the dish WITH NO TOMATOES IN IT. Yes, the Andalusians had a cold soup dish consisting of bread, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and salt. The Andalusians added the main ingredient only later on, when it was introduced in Spain – anywhere between 1493 and 1521.
Participants: 7 tomatoes, 1 onion, 2 green peppers, 1 red pepper, 1 cucumber, 1 small bun, 2 garlic cloves, olive oil, red wine vinegar (we used white wine vinegar but traditionally you’d use the red kind). Out of frame: Cold water, Salt.
The language spoken in this gathering was a mixture of broken German and broken English (Elsa used her good English and it was good enough for us to understand her). My German is OK by now, Tino’s is pretty good, but still we had to make some things up. For example, whenever we had to boil anything, we used the German verb brbrlbkben. It worked.
So in order to peel of the tomato shells, we brbrlbkbed some water and cooked the tomatoes in it for two minutes. My trick was always to cut a cross at the bottom of the Tomatoes and pour some water on top of them from the kettle; Tino’s way proved better.
“could you give me the quantities for that?”, I asked, innocently.
“Oh, just what feels right” answered Tino.
Then we mashed everything together with a hand-held blender and Tino put in some more olive oil. And some more.
“We Spaniards like a lot of olive oil. It’s almost as if we drink it!”
“Almost.” I thought.
The mixture was blended, along with some ice-cold water, and after a some more tasting and correcting, Tino was pleased. All there was left to do now, was to give the splendid mixture a nice two hours’ Siesta in the fridge. In order to be able to hold our breath, we went ahead and made the “Papas aliñás”; About this adventure you’ll read right here in just a few days.
I’ve listed the recipe in a separate post, to make it easier to track stories and recipes. Just scroll down and you’ll see it!
You can also just follow this link.