I’ve been making this gazpacho every week for as long as I’ve been able to gather all of the ingredients for it. It’s been a good run. I pick up a mix of yellow, orange, and red tomatoes because they yield the most joyful, orangey colored soup. I choose tomatoes that when I lift them up in my hands, they are ripe and hefty with juice. I can smell them from the stand they sit on in the store through my mask, and at this point, I can clock by eye how much about two pounds of tomatoes weighs. But still, I always go through the motions of weighing them in the hanging scale for good measure, and the sake of routine, certainty, assurance and because food scales and grocery stores bring me comfort in a way best described as things in my life I can actually rely on.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised the past couple weeks that my grocery store is still stocking the colorful heirloom tomatoes I’ve grown accustomed to making this with. They are so juicy and flavorful. The tomatoes themselves taste warm like the sun they grew ripe and plump under. They’re heavenly.
And yet, the supply keeps dwindling. There’s less of the summer bounty and more of the hardy, cold weather staples. And the days keep getting colder, and shorter. And it’s getting harder to deny I’m beginning to feel much like the squirrels and chipmunks that seem to be going berserk, running around with their walnuts and acorns, threatening to jump out in front of my car to cross the road as I drive by wincing and cursing and tapping the brakes everytime they tempt their fate. I’m feeling confused, defiant, reluctant and mildly depressed that summer is ending and hibernation is calling once again, even though this year it feels like it never left.
There’s a peculiar aspect I find myself considering when I’m grocery shopping that I’d never really had cause to do before. I walk down aisles and spot things I wouldn’t normally buy and think, “Hmmm, this would be good to have on hand in case I get sick.” Convenience products, mostly. Things like boxed stock, bouillon cubes, cans of soup, saltines, applesauce and fruit cups. Things I would normally insist on making from scratch, lest I have to deal with my inwardly judgemental thoughts about buying something I could, and should, just make myself.
But then again, I’ve never gone into a season anticipating sickness before like I am right now. I’ve never felt as though it’s an inevitability that I will get sick, almost certainly this year, and that I won’t have the wherewithal to be up and making everything from scratch. And then I’ll learn where being judgmental about buying saltines gets me when I’m sick and sad and hungry. I’m sure there’s an Aesop’s fable about it. Something along the lines of “The Grasshopper and the Ants” meets “The Wild Boar and the Fox”. It’s scary, no lie. It’s scary enough to be taken down by any illness in fine times, but nowadays, it’s downright troublesome to have the sniffles.
So I’ve bought a few things I normally wouldn’t have to prepare for the coming winter. And yet I’m still buying things that are so synonymous with summer, too. I’m neither here, nor there. I’m anywhere and everywhere but in the present moment. But that’s very typical of me. I’m not sure if that’s just an anxiety disorder thing or an everybody thing.
Naturally I assume I’m just some kind of freak, but if I’m not looking forward, I’m looking backward. Because sometimes being in the present moment makes me feel like I’m on fire, and my cheeks flush bright red to match, and I think, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?” as Emily Webb did in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. I played her once, a long time ago, and even in doing so and delivering that line and being moved by it, I was still very, deeply, purposely removed from it and anxious, and desperate to just get through it all—the lines, the scenes, the play, the days, the months, the years, the classes, the semesters . . . my life.
For many a reason, I’m used to finding a way to endure the amassing moments until I can escape. And then often, in hindsight, I think, “Hmmm, it’s too bad I wasn’t present more. I miss it. I wish I could have enjoyed it at the time” Lol. How insufferable. I’d like my obituary, or headstone, or posthumously published first tweet to read simply “I tried.” Because, I really feel like I did. And do. Even when maybe it doesn’t seem like it.
So, I’m wrenching all the summer I can out of all the produce I'm able to get my hands on while trying to relinquish a little control in buying some ready-made, staple sick-foods from my childhood's past while bracing and preparing myself for what’s to come in this pandemic fall/winter election year extravaganza. What a world! What a world.
Were you wondering if I was ever going to talk about the recipe? I guess I could mention a few things. Gazpacho 2.0 is an updated riff on this here gazpacho. There are a few differences in flavor and appearance, between the yellow/orange tomatoes, serrano pepper, decreased onion and increased vinegar, but the most notable change is in texture. I don’t strain this gazpacho. Mostly because I have a new blender that doesn’t fuck around. My previous blender was scary. The blendy blade part was an insert, with blades here, there, and everywhere, but not enough power to really get a good smooth puree going despite all its pointy edges. And washing the blade insert was a thing of nightmares, where if I even looked at it funny I ended up with cuts all over my hands. Is this typical of blenders, or was it just the one I was using?
All I know is I just couldn’t take it anymore. So it’s been banished to a dark corner of a cabinet full of things I barely and rarely use. Makes sense, right? Why get rid of stuff when I can horde it away and have it and the rest of the crap in the junk cabinet weighing on my soul while I’m lying awake in the middle of the night thinking of all the things I should get rid of and reorganize in my life instead of actually sleeping? But, as usual, I digress. Not only do I feel good about eating the vegetables in their entirety (okay, minus seeds and stems and peels, so, like, most of their entirety), but it saves the additional step of straining as well as washing the dishes that go along with that, which I just so happen to find irritating to wash anyway, since I am the dishwasher. I’m looking at you broken-handled fine mesh strainer and awkward ladle I’m just itching to replace and relegate to the junk cabinet...
Yield: ≅6 cups
*Note: I found a noticeable difference in texture between blending the gazpacho for 90 seconds versus a full two minutes, and found that a full two minutes yielded the smoothest texture and a longer lasting emulsion. Some separation occurs during refrigeration, but a good shake of the container while holding onto the lid (!) brings everything back together.
12/14/2022 11:38:29 am
anks for sharing the article, and more importantly, your personal experience of mindfully using our emotions as data about our inner state and knowing when it’s better to de-escalate by taking a time out are great tools. Appreciate you reading and sharing your story since I can certainly relate and I think others can to
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Hello! I'm Kat.
Cooker, baker, amateur pottery maker.
I'm a CIA graduate (culinary arts & applied food studies) who previously studied anthropology.
Food obsessed. Anxiety disorder. Grief bearer.
Here you'll find recipes for what I'm currently feeling and sometimes even why!