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Green Gazpacho

Sunday, May 5, 2013
Green Gazpacho

I wanted to write a short story. The words are mine, the memory is of others. I hope you enjoy it.

My father, I still remember him with dirty hands, black as coal just like his curly hair, peaking flat and long under the cap. He used to put it on every morning after coffee, along with that curious flashlight on his forehead, which would brighten his job down in the earth's gut. When he walked out the house, he had the calm look of a wise old man and the proud stride of an eternal runner. He used to speak very little, in a hoarse voice and with a strong northern accent; he had blue eyes and was always dressed clean, with that green checkered shirt and its starched collar. Every evening, except on Good Friday, my birthday and the eve of European Soccer Cup, he met up with the others down at the pub, and talked with an open smile about his job at the mine and the reason why the Newkie Brown was the best beer in the world. Extroverted enough, he was courteous and tolerant of new ideas, even when he began getting entangled with obstinacy in the arguments of his politics, defending his teammates and the infinite strike of that sad winter of thirty years ago.
At that time I was attending Northgate Middle School, I wore my hair short and had biker boots with red laces, and I used to listen to the Ultravox indefinitely. I was twelve years old when he came home and said that's it, my dear, we're on strike. I didn't know why but I was afraid, I felt a change in the air that would destroy us.
It was a long and cold winter; he resisted until the end picketing hard in front of the mounted police, while my mother wrote poetry and sold hope at the flea market. That time at Christmas we couldn't wear ironed pants, and we received peas and canned meat as gift from our merciful neighbors.
I used to see her on TV with the hair in order and the inflexible look; she had called us enemies and I couldn't forgive her, blaming her for everything, the cold, the empty streets, the fights with our cousins. My father loved his dark helmet and everything he asked for was the honesty of a job to give us ideas, books and happiness. Seven years later, when people cheered shouting Maggie's gone, I wasn't able to join the party, because I knew that the rift between us was forever.
Today I listen to the news in the shyness of London spring, in front of an unlikely soup in a modern bistro, and I find myself in front of the same iron gaze just like I had left it in my memory. Dozens of posthumous and biased reports will be of no use, I already know that I won't watch them, those fake and glossy documentaries. I've lived it from within, in the coldness of months with no bread and no light, and I still have all the poems, the biker boots and the t-shirt. I didn't fully understand, but I was there to share the anger; and I know for a fact that since then, nothing has been as before.


Green Gazpacho


Green Gazpacho*
for 6 people

celery 2 stalks
green bell peppers 2
peeled cucumbers 600 gr
stale bread 80 gr
toasted walnuts 130 gr
fresh green chili pepper 1
garlic 4 cloves
sugar 1 teaspoon
baby spinach 200 gr
fresh basil 1 big bunch
minced parsley 2 tablespoons
balsamic vinegar 4 tablespoons
olive oil 60 ml
coconut milk 3 tablespoons
water approx. 700 ml
ice 4-5 cubes
salt, pepper, croutons as needed


*I adapted the recipe from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi, a well-known London chef. At times it appears on the menu of his restaurant in Notting Hill. And the book, between me and you, is a real treat.
Coarsely chop celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, bread, nuts, chili pepper and garlic. Process with a blender adding sugar, baby spinach, herbs, olive oil, vinegar, coconut milk, almost all of the water, ice, salt, and pepper. If necessary, add more water until you reach the desired consistency.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and toasted croutons.


Croutons and Walnuts

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