The taste of summer

When I lived in Seville, as late spring turned into early summer, it got hot.

Really hot.

Hot like a fair-skinned person from northern Europe dreams of for a few weeks a year, but fears beyond that.

Hot like holidays.

Hot like lying around barely moving for several hours in the middle of the day.

Hot like siestas suddenly make sense.

Hot like scurrying in a beetlish manner from shadow to shadow along the street whenever you had to go out.

Hot like the only relief was lying barely clothed on the cool marble floor of the living room after a cold shower, metal blinds shut tight and tickled by a light breeze from a lazily swirling ceiling fan.


For most of the day, it was simply too damned hot to eat, but there were two things which became staples during that stifling summer and since.

Tinto de Verano – “summer wine” – is th classic long cool drink, but because it’s made with wine rather than spirits, it’s not so potent, and instead is remarkably refreshing.

You will need:
A tall glass, like a classic coke tumbler
Lots of ice
Red wine – table variety is perfect. In fact, look in your local supermarket for French or Spanish table wine or vin de pays which come in a plastic bottle or carton, like juice. You want something cheap, fruity, not trying too hard.
Schweppes bitter lemon mixer. In Spain they use a kind of lemonade called la casera gaseosa, but bitter lemon is ideal. Fizzy clear lemonade (r whites, etc) is too sweet. At a push you can use fizzy water and lemon juice.

Fill glass with ice.
Add red wine to the 2/3 mark.
Top off with bitter lemon.

Take a long cool sip. You’ve earnt it.

(incidentally, I’ve seen something like this advertised this summer as a branded thing for blossom hill rose. Don’t believe the hype!)

Gazpacho del campo, as made by my friend Javier’s mother in a tiny village in Jaén, is nothing like the chilled, pallid soup you may have met before. In fact, it’s more of a salad.

You will need:

Bread (like from a baguette), torn into rough lumps bigger than croutons but small enough to be speared by a fork and fit in your mouth.
Lots of cucumber & tomato, a little onion, garlic, straight from the fridge and all finely chopped – keep all the juices as you chop.
BIG slug of olive oil.
Decent slug of vinegar (balsamic)
Slug of tomato juice (if your veg isn’t very juicy or if you like it)
Salt and pepper (plenty)

Put the bread in the bottom of a bowl.
Throw on the salad bits and all the juices.
Glug on the oil, vinegar and tomato juice and seasoning and toss well, so everything smooshes together a bit. You’re aiming for a soggy salad.

Nom with a glass of tinto. Deeeeeelish.

The thing is, chilled soup is sometimes a bit meh, because the consistency and the flavour are unexpected and can be quite bland. Having the same ingredients as a wet salad allows all the flavours to emerge and collide in your mouth.


2 thoughts on “The taste of summer

  1. Thanks for the tip, I had this last night & can confirm much deliciousness was had.

    My other half wasn’t so keen on the idea of soggy bread, so I baked up some fresh ciabatta croutons and left them at the side of the Gazpacho.

    The Summer Wine was just right for a balmy summers evening.


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