So many memories surface when summer arrives. I can’t help but think of my childhood and the carefree days between June and September. The responsibilities that came with school disappeared, opening the doors to childhood freedom!
Scorching Californian Summers
Growing up in Bakersfield, California, summers there are not for the faint of heart. Some days the temperature can spike to 115+ degrees, and the nights don’t offer much relief. Even though the heat and dryness of the central valley summer air seemed determined and tough, it was my all-time favorite time of year.To stay amused and entertained, we would swim for what seemed like the entire day, we would see if an egg would fry in the middle of the street (because we thought that was amusing!), and attempt to make a fortune from our lemonade stand. We would race as fast as we could to the ice cream man who stopped at the corner down the street. Contests would be held to see who could eat their ice cream cones before they melted.
A Busy Time for the Whole Family
The summer was also a busy time of year for my family. Our squadron of kids, comprised of my siblings, our neighborhood friends, and cousins spent almost every day together. We rode our bikes and scooters to and from each other’s houses. We would prance around in our bathing suits inside and outside the house like frantic multi-colored beach balls. Meanwhile, harvesting bell peppers, tomatoes, melons, onions and chili peppers at the ranch demanded the attention of my father most days all summer long.
Fresh Gazpacho to Cool Down…
On many days during these hot, hot weeks, there is one thing I remember so very well each July; my mother, calmly tolerating the situation of us kids and the blazing heat, standing at the kitchen counter dicing and chopping tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers and cucumber for gazpacho. It was something I always looked forward to. Bursting with flavor, it was cool, it was tangy, it was boisterous and fresh, it was, in a distinct way, summer. She made it look effortless and delicious and I knew cooking in the cool kitchen made her happy.
A Taste of California Summer in a Bowl
As I prepared to write this, I called my little sister Alexis and asked her if she still had our mom’s gazpacho recipe. Oddly enough, our mother did not have one. But our grandmother had three and while this felt strange at first, I quickly recalled that I don’t think I ever saw my mom follow a recipe for gazpacho. She just “winged” it. For fun, I took the time to recreate one of these recipes and I am convinced this was my childhood “July in a bowl”.
Note: Pair with a 2015 Fritz Winery Sauvignon Blanc.
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