Making gazpacho, or birthday part two

It was a good day, despite things not going really just right.  I had planned to be home for the day but I needed to be in the office.  So I went. 

I heard from many friends, some of my very best friends, as well as my mother, sister and each of my two nephews– who now contact me on their own on their cell phones.  I love them and I love the young people they are and were and the older people they are becoming.  My old friend L called from San Francisco.  For my daughter the occasion of my birthday seemed to bring up many sadnesses, disappointments and other hard things so it was a bumpy road from that perspective. 

During the day, in addition to getting his birthday message, I texted back and for with our housemate A– who I hadn’t seen in days and who came home to the wireless router I ordered– while I was still at work, and installed it.  Now if that isn’t a gift that goes with the territory of having a 19-year-old housemate I don’t know what is.  I got emails from several others– friends I love and miss having much closer.

My father, who I miss a lot at different times, loved modern architecture.  I learned early on from my dad the phrase, and the author of the phrase, “Less is more.”  It was the architect Mies van der Rohe who said it first.  Or at least said it famously, first.  I grew up with the phrase.  Sometimes less is not more– more close people, more rigor in fixing the world, more attention to people you love– in many instances more is more.  But in some realms less really is more and I had a wonderful success on that front for my birthday. 

Instead of the many more complicated things I have often tried to do for my birthday, and which have often left me both tired and too stressed out to enjoy myself– instead of that, I cooked/ prepared dinner for my home girls– me, my daughter and partner and A who is now our guy at home.  And I told him to go ahead and invite a friend of his.  So one of his young women friends came too.   This is one of the joys of having a new roommate actually.  I held the line at “family dinner– that’s all I want!” but it was company too.  I cooked.  I set the table.

I loved preparing the summer food– the very simplest, good food.  Corn on the cob, chicken that we had gotten it together to marinate overnight and my very favorite– gazpacho.  For years I have loved gazpacho and tried many increasingly elaborate recipes which have involved more and more effort and which I have enjoyed less and less– and not because of the work involved, but because of the end product. 

So then I stopped making gazpacho and just started eating it– buying it from the farmer’s market, going to two different restaurants where they make a gazpacho I like.  I tried and tried to figure out what was the secret to the couple of recipes that I really liked but I could not figure it out.  As it happened, we joined a pool this summer– a cooperatively owned pool (that funky, eclectic hippie-ish set up and group at the pool is another story for another time).  On the first day we went, we set up with two other families that we know well– and the dad in one of those families, our neighbor, is a restaurant owner.  He had brought a huge jug of  his own home made gazpacho among the many offerings we had for a Memorial Day weekend picnic.  Eureka!!  He had something that was right in the family of those recipes I have loved.  And he gave me the recipe.  The secret?  Taking out most of the ingredients I had been putting in, all the things I kept adding to try to get it right.   

So I tried a slightly altered rendition at home for my birthday dinner.  And it was perfect– just the flavor and texture I have been longing for.  Less was indeed more.  So here is my first blogged recipe.  Skip the yellow or purple onions, V-8 juice, garlic, lemon, red or green peppers, and other things.

Use: 8-10 fresh tomatoes, 2 cucumbers skinned, 2-3 spring onions, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar mixed with some balsamic vinegar.  Salt and pepper.  Your blender or food processor.  You’re done. 

So when it comes to birthdays and gazpacho, Mies van der Rohe was definitely right– less is more and delicious too.

One response to “Making gazpacho, or birthday part two

  1. this time the comment link worked! Happy happy birthday. I had not realized how important your bthday was. Nice to hear you had a good day. Love, Evi

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