There are recipes with so much to tell that they could easily become a cooking book of their own right. I like to think of the salmorejo as one those recipes.
Preparing a salmorejo feels like taking part in a masterclass on the history of Mediterranean gastronomy. I still find fascinating how such a simple recipe can tell us so much about all the different communities who have been living, cooking and eating around this beautiful part of the world which is southern Spain.
To understand the salmorejo recipe as we know it today we need to travel back in time and meet our Mediterranean and Mesopotamian ancestors, who would already soak bread in water to prepare the base for cold soups. The addition of olive oil and vinegar came a bit later and it’s usually credited to the Romans, although knowing how much the Al Andalus Moors loved vinegar, they most likely applied their expert knowledge to improve the recipe.
Some few centuries passed by and it was only by the end of the 18th that some flavouring was added to the basic recipe in the form of salt and garlic. Finally, the discovery of the ‘New World’ brought another major contribution with the introduction of one of the star ingredients that made it all the way from America: the tomato. It took a while though as this only happened by the end of the 19th century!!
Today, many different types of salmorejo share the best chefs’ tables with other experimental creations like the beetroot salmorejo we showed you here awhile ago (soooo good!!)
However the basic recipe remains the same. The same recipe that bridged neolithic cuisine with contemporary cuisine, the ‘Old World’ and the ‘New World’, the most traditional cooking with the most innovative kitchens.
What is the secret? I can’t explain it easily. But go and make yourself one. Perhaps you’ll discover why such a simple recipe has captivated the local stomachs for thousands of years.