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mmmmm! cold soup!

For those of you who don’t know – and I address such culturally benighted people purely out of the goodness of my heart, you understand – gazpacho is a kind of Spanish tomato soup. Gazpacho’s USP is that it is served cold. That’s right, hombres: cold. Cold soup! Eeeh, the world is going to hell in a handcart.

In the very likely event that you have given little thought to gazpacho soup over the course of your life, the intended purpose of this blog post is to enlighten you on a few topics.

The first thing to note is that, whilst the quality of commercially-available gazpacho is somewhat variable, it is generally very tasty. Gazpacho is at its best when it is fairly coarse – somewhere between a salsa and a traditional soup, I would say. The likes of Covent Garden Soup Co, on which my partner* Gary has very ably pontificated, are guilty of producing overly-liquidy gazpacho. Be this as it may, there is something about mashed up, slightly acidic vegetables that is hugely refreshing of a summer’s day.

The second thing to note is that “commercially available” is something of a misnomer nowadays, for you can’t get gazpacho soup in mainstream supermarkets for love nor money. It used to be the case, up until last year, that during the summer – and I use this word in the loosest possible sense to cover the time from June to September – you could find pots of gazpacho soup in the soup aisle of any leading supermarket. No longer. Nowadays you’ll have to go as far afield as shops such as Whole Foods to get your cold, Spanish, tomato-based fix. The likes of Waitrose and Morrisons have, it seems, quietly withdrawn gazpacho from its shelves. It no longer exists. It is a ghost-soup.

I have no idea why this should be. Perhaps the soup-consuming populace have wised-up to the fact that, instead of shelling out a hefty sum for some fancy-schmancy Spanish soup, they can simply purchase the same product, marketed under the less salubrious name of ‘tomato soup’, for less coinage. Which brings me onto my third point. Gazpacho soup and tomato soup (with the aforementioned caveat about coarseness aside) are to all intents and purposes the same product. The difference in name betokens merely a difference in marketing tactics, and a difference in intended temperature. Why is it, then, that the thought of chowing down on cold tomato soup is deeply unappealing, whilst the thought of consuming gazpacho at this temperature is (to me at least) not at all unpleasant? The rational part of my mind tells me that, for heaven’s sake man, it’s the same product, but the emotional part of my mind tells me that, no – thou shalt honour the words on thy pot: gazpacho = cold; tomato soup = hot.

(a similar point can be made with regards to ‘soup’ and ‘juice’: Gazpacho soup and tomato juice are in many instances extremely qualitatively similar, yet the thought of eating (or drinking) something called ‘juice’ out of a bowl is wrong wrong wrong. (Although some weirdos do consume soup out of a cup, it has to be said.)

There is a deep lesson to be learned here, I think, about the power of marketing on the way we perceive products. I would do some research into it, but since I am not getting paid to write any of this, I can’t be arsed to do so.

*professional, not romantic


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