Salmorejo

Why does tomato and garlic go so well together? It's a divine mystery, but in the cold Spanish soup Salmorejo (Gazpacho's less famous sibling) their combination of flavours reaches the peak of perfection. Salmorejo is my favourite Spanish dish, and possibly my favourite dish ever. The best causes me to smile idiotically (see below) upon eating. It's a tomato soup, best served slightly chilled, and sprinkled liberally with bits of jamón and hard boiled egg.

The first time I tried it I found the flavour very weird and confusing. The second time it lingered on my palette for days and suddenly I was craving more! From then on, there was no going back! And in Spain, the great thing for me is that it's available in supermarkets, so I can have it whenever I want; however, that's been ruined for me by my girlfriend, who makes a salmorejo so good that nothing else comes close. Her recipe is a latterday family secret - her sister convinced a chef in Córdoba (the birthplace of salmorejo) to part with it, if she promised not to share it with anyone else. But I'm a member of the family now, so I've been given the blessing to learn it for myself...probably only because my girlfriend's sick of me asking her to make it all the time.
Incidentally, I recently went to Córdoba and of course I had only one thing on my mind - not the Mesquita, the Alcázar, or the beautiful winding old streets - but to track down the best salmorejo ever. Unfortunately, the restaurant that provided the sacred recipe was too far out of the city centre, and all we could find were touristy places whose food was a little disappointing. Unless you can get specific recommendations, it's really just trial and error. For such a simple dish, the flavour and texture of salmorejo varies wildly from place to place. I've had some really good ones and some really bad ones in Andalucía, and the same goes for here in Madrid too.

There's plenty of recipes online if you want to try making it for yourself. This one for example, looks pretty good. Quite a few include Jerez vinegar as well, but I prefer it without. Try it, and maybe you'll be enganchado (hooked) too!