You probably expect me to write about France, but, being a true Parisian, I love to escape from my city. When my friend Françoise Pouget, olive oil expert, moved to Sevilla and invited me to visit, I did and was captivated and enchanted.Sevilla is a vibrant city. We walked everywhere and visited many museums and churches. We went to Cordoba by train for one day. For a thorough report on eating and drinking, I recommend my friend David Lebovitz’s archives (www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/10/seville-spain). I did eat plenty of tapas, enjoyed CampoCruz beer as the locals do, and became addicted to my daily dose of Salmojero. Since tomato season has begun, I would like to share with you my favorite version of this typically andalusian recipe.
Salmojero originated in Cordoba. It is served cold as a soup, but because of its creamy consistency it can also be a sauce. Salmojero was “blanco” (white) before tomatoes were introduced in Spain. Today it is very smooth thanks to the electric blenders. The ingredients which have not varied over the centuries are : bread, olive oil, a touch of garlic, and a topping of chopped hard boiled eggs and “taquitos” of jamon iberico (cubes of the local cured ham).
You may add a dash of Xeres (sherry) vinegar at the end. Personally I find it distracts from the very refreshing taste of tomatoes, bread and olive oil combined in a special way.
For 6 servings
For the garnish
Some leave tomato skins on.
Using the mortar is for the satisfaction of doing it traditionally. The bread crumbs can perfectly go directly into the blender, after the tomatoes have been pulsed.
If you wonder what differentiates Salmojero from Gaspacho, this is what I was told : Salmojero is thick, and contains no vegetable other than tomatoes. It is pale. Gaspacho is liquidy, can actually be drunk, and contains cucumber, red and green peppers in addition to tomatoes. It is deep red.
Spain produces more than half of the world’s olive oils. At Oleo-le (www.oleo-le.com) the shop where Françoise conducts weekly tastings, it was hard to choose from the excellent strictly spanish selection. Looking for the unusual and local, I chose OleoAureo, pressed from the PicoLimon variety, growing just north of Seville.
At Bar Las Teresas, both very touristic and very authentic, the cured hams were hanging and dripping extra fat in their little individual cups.
At Mercato Lonja del Barranco, which is really a food hall, including “Peggy Sue’s grill” we waited 15 minutes for our squid to be cooked, but it was worth it, tender and tasty.
We did visit the Alcazar, a glorious royal palace, dating back to the Xth century, and in the gardens we saw this amazing orange tree, to which a lemon tree had been grafted ????
I cannot resist sharing with you our experience of Semana Santa. While we were there Holy Heek began on Palm Sunday. Watching the processions, which expressed solemnity, passion, tradotion but also joy and pride, is an unforgettable experience.
The Costaleros (www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtBSLpfVsVo) intrigued and touched me beyond reason. These guys, young, strong, who carry the heavy pasos (floats) for hours in narrow streets, and can hardly breathe under the velvet fabric hiding them from our sight, are true heroes. Enjoy the video, you will not regret it.
Adios, à bientôt ….