Gazpacho: a lesson in sustainability
There are traditions that are kept alive no matter how many years go by. Flavours, colours, and recipes that have been with us generation after generation. Like this humble dish, which after fourteen centuries of life, and despite its simplicity, still has plenty to teach us.
Originally from southern Spain, the first records of this dish date back to the 7th century. A period marked by the Arab influence of Al-Andalus, which would lay the foundations of Spanish culture and gastronomy.
In the first few centuries, gazpacho consisted solely of a hand-pounded mixture of garlic, vinegar, oil, and bread. A simple recipe to which, following the arrival of new vegetables from across the Atlantic, ingredients such as peppers and cucumbers were added, along with what is now considered its key ingredient: tomatoes.
Gazpacho, as we know it today, was born from the fusion of a variety of produce from the vegetable patch that had to be used up efficiently during the hottest months of the year. Furthermore, thanks to the simplicity of its preparation, it became popular among farmers as it fulfilled a very basic function:
“In the past, people would take advantage of all the resources of farms and cropland, so tomatoes were used to make gazpacho, which was then served as lunch for day labourers. In other words, gazpacho meant that even the energy required to work came from the crop itself.”
Raúl Montagud, Farmer at Masía del Carmen
As with many traditional dishes, gazpacho reflects the great respect for past times for each and every one of the products grown, and for the need to make the most of the harvest at the peak of the season:
“Traditionally, when you had your own vegetable patch at home and there were a lot of beans, tomatoes, or any other vegetable grown, all the neighbours would get together to make preserves. And these preserves were later handed out among the neighbours. This was a way to enjoy the product out of season and to use up any overproduction from the fields.”
Gemma Ferrandis, waste prevention manager
“We know that we waste almost a third of what is produced. Knowing the facts about how much food is being thrown away is the start of making consumers aware of what is going on. Our goal at CrowdFarming is not to digitise the supermarket, but to digitise that age-old experience of being able to have the opportunity to buy your food directly from the source. “
Gonzalo Urculo, Farmer and Entrepreneur
Like many recipes originating in the countryside, gazpacho gradually spread across Spain and began to feed families from all communities and social backgrounds. Such was the popularity of this simple dish over the years that not only has it been named an Intangible Cultural Heritage (as part of the Mediterranean Diet), but it has also inspired works by major painters, singers, or film directors such as Almodóvar. This has made it one of Spain’s leading cultural symbols and one of the most popular dishes of the summer.
Although in literature we can find texts on the method initially used to make gazpacho, like most traditional dishes the recipe has been transformed over the years, giving rise to regional and even international varieties.
Indeed, any version of gazpacho is proof that by looking back and regaining contact with the origins of what we eat, not only do we manage to keep ancient traditions alive, but we also foster respect for natural ingredients and highlight the importance of quality and of environmental protection.
Because after fourteen centuries of history, gazpacho is a clear example that the sustainability we need for the future is already written in our past.
“The most important thing, and the biggest challenge posed to farmers today, is to convince ourselves that our work has a direct impact not just on our environment, but also on our society.“
Gonzalo Urculo, Farmer and Entrepreneur
Traditional Gazpacho recipe
Our farmers cultivate tomatoes during the summer months. If you want to try them you can order a box and receive them directly from the plant to your home, to prepare your own Gazpachos and favourite recipes.
Correction: Contrary to what the video narration may imply, cucumber did not arrive in Spain at the same time as other modern gazpacho ingredients such as peppers or tomatoes. Cucumber is a vegetable of Asian origin that reached the Iberian Peninsula long before, thanks to the Romans, and it was the Spanish who made it reach the American continent in the 16th century. Cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers did not appear as ingredients of gazpacho until the end of the 18th century.