History of gazpacho, origin and evolution

The recipe for gazpacho continues to stir up debate, as is the case with the great gastronomic proposals that can be enjoyed in Spain.

In this article we review what is known about the historical past of gazpacho, its origins and the evolution that has taken place up to the present day.

Origins of gazpacho

There are references to gazpacho as far back as the 1st century B.C. when Virgil identified a recipe made by harvesters, who used bread by mashing serpol, garlic and aromatic herbs.

However, it is considered that gazpacho, as it is known today, could not be enjoyed until the 16th century, as it requires two ingredients that did not arrive until then, tomato and pepper.

Even with these ingredients, we also owe its original creation to the ancient peasants, as it was they who used leftovers from previous meals to make it.

Specifically, moreover, we are talking about Andalusian peasants and day labourers. In fact, it is known as “gazpacho andaluz” (Andalusian gazpacho), although there is no unanimity as to which province it originated in. In fact, nowadays there is a wide diversity of ways of making gazpacho, depending on the Andalusian province in which it is made.

In the past, this food was actually based on several days’ worth of dry bread, which was soaked in water and squeezed by hand.

Tomatoes were then added, which were also squeezed by hand. Additional ingredients that complemented the traditional recipe included crushed garlic in a mortar, salt, oil and vinegar.

Sometimes other ingredients were also added according to season and location, such as cucumbers, peppers and various greens and vegetables, which were chopped before mixing.

Evolution of gazpacho

Like any good classic recipe, gazpacho has evolved over the years. Each ingredient that was added or removed responded both to personal preferences and to alternatives that offered new options.

Serpol, for example, was less and less present in the gazpacho recipe and, with it, a unique aroma that only this species was able to provide.

Cucumber is one of the last ingredients to be included in the recipe, mainly because of its excellent combination with vinegar. Some cooks distinguish between normal gazpacho and mild gazpacho, depending on whether or not this ingredient is present in its preparation.

Another important change in the evolution of gazpacho is the gradual substitution of garlic in favour of onion. A subtle change that considerably modifies the final taste of the dish.

The inclusion of ingredients from other countries has been responsible for the biggest changes in this recipe.

There are those who take advantage of them for a very peculiar Andalusian gazpacho and, at the same time, those who reject them because they do not complement the traditional ingredients to their taste.

Some of the protagonists of these additions are chilli peppers, potatoes and even avocado.

The process of mashing has also evolved. Traditionally, it was done by hand and some people still defend this way of preparing gazpacho. However, technological innovation in the service of gastronomy has led to genuine blends with less strenuous mashing. The result, in both cases, is a delicious Andalusian gazpacho, especially if it is made with the best quality ingredients.

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