|Beijing 2008. Go USA!|
|Photo by Michael Sawyer|
|Photo by Michael Sawyer|
Virginia summers are beyond hot. The air is thick with gnats and mosquitoes--the only living things that really have any business being outside, and by mile marker #3, the little buggers will be dutifully lodged in my nose, teeth, and lungs. Logging 20 miles in a single day is no easy feat. It takes about 7 hours--8 if I stop for the requisite breaks to put fresh band-aids on my blistered feet. At about mile marker #9, I'm aware that my clothes have absorbed so much sweat that I might just have to burn them when I get home. By mile #16, I'm practically seeing mirages--imagining cabanas around every bend in the trail in which a shirtless man in white trousers will shove a sliver of lime into into a cold Corona, and hand it to me with a porcelain smile. When the training is finally--blessedly--over, I'm nothing but a hot sticky mess. I look and feel like a Krispy Kreme doughnut that spent too much time in the microwave.
I am also hungry. Ravenous, actually, but with a level of exhaustion that makes it difficult to chew. Not to worry; here's a dish where the blender has basically already completed that task: gazpacho. It's the perfect thing to eat at the end of the training trail--a cold crisp combination of pureed cucumbers, tomatoes, and pepper, with just enough kick to get me up so that I can limp into the car and get home to a long and well-deserved shower.
1. Blend the following in a blender: one pound of tomatoes; one-quarter of a large hot-house cucumber, peeled; one-quarter of a large red pepper, seeded; one-quarter of a large green pepper, seeded; 1 and 1/2 cups of tomato juice; 1 Tbs ketchup; 2 Tbs tomato paste; 1/4 cup sherry vinegar; 2 Tbs olive oil; 3 Tbs chopped parsley or cilantro.
2. Dice the following: one-quarter of a large hot-house cucumber; one-quarter of a large red pepper; one-quarter of large green pepper; 2 scallions; 1 large tomato.
3. For you math types, the entire recipe calls for one-half each of a cucumber, red pepper and green pepper. Half goes in the blender and half gets diced and added to the soup base; hence, a quarter for each part of the recipe.
4. Add the diced vegetables to the soup base. Taste. Fool around with salt, sugar, black pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste (about 1/2 tsp of each if you have to be all technical about it).
6. Serve in a martini or margarita glass, especially when you're on the W&OD Trail because when you are that hot and tired, it's just a surreal bit of fun. Sort of like synchronized swimming.
*** Many thanks to Michael D. Sawyer both for his excellent photos and his kindness for letting me use them here.