Córdoba and its weirdly wonderful soup, Mazamorra

Finally the weather has improved and just as we’re getting into gear to make our way back to England, the sun has come out.

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It’s been a busy month with house repairs but also time to catch up with friends and loved ones and a return to a very favourite city, Córdoba. My bestie came to visit and we took her there for a visit as she had never been. We saw the beautiful Mezquita, now a Catholic cathedral but packed full of Moorish history.

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We also went back to Medina Azahara, declared this week a UNESCO world heritage site. Hopefully that will mean an investment of money to allow more of this amazing first century Arab Muslim city to be excavated.

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Of course, we made sure we ate and drank well and we all tried, for the first time, a chilled Cordoban soup called Mazamorra. Based on very simple ingredients, like many of the gazpachos of Spain, but giving an amazing finished result which we all loved. It’s an incredibly thick and filling dish, we shared one portion in the restaurant and when I made it at home recently, we decided that it would be perfect served in shot glasses as part of a mixed tapas selection.

You don’t need to be too precise about the weight of ingredients, just try to keep roughly to the proportions. But do give it a try, you might be as weirdly and wonderfully surprised by it as we were!

Ingredients (this makes one large bowl of soup which would serve about 8 shot glasses or 4 tiny bowls)

  • Approx 100g stale bread (use the best quality you have as this will greatly influence the flavour of the finished soup e.g. sourdough or ciabatta) soaked in a little water until soft
  • About 35g of blanched almonds
  • A small clove of garlic, peeled
  • Half a teaspoon of fine salt
  • One teaspoon of white wine vinegar
  • About 100 ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Cold water
  • To garnish – chopped hard boiled egg, some chopped black olives (I didn’t have any) and a drizzle of olive oil

Put the soaked bread, the almonds, garlic, salt and white wine vinegar into a blender (I used a jug and a stick blender) and blend until you have a paste. I added a few drops of water to help things along. Now gradually add the olive oil and keep blending and adding until you have a smooth, thick paste. It should look rather like hummus. Now add a tablespoon of water at a time and keep blending. You want to end up with a mixture rather like custard. Taste and add a little more salt if you need it then chill until ready to serve.

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A useful gift from a generous neighbour

The restaurant we tasted this in was rather fancy and the soup was drizzled with a mango purée, which was delicious.  Traditionally, chopped hard boiled egg and chopped black olives are used. A drizzle of olive oil really works well and serve with crunchy breadsticks for dipping.

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If you’d prefer a more familiar gazpacho, take a look at my recipe, or perhaps you’d enjoy my very favourite, Salmorejo,  which is a chilled tomato and bread soup, also from Córdoba. All delicious, each very different from the other. Buen Provecho!

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Were we in Italy or Spain?

It’s hard to pick up blogging after a period of silence.  Is anyone still out there listening and reading?! Life once more wriggled and wiggled and got in the way but between driving to Spain, doing Spanish family stuff, driving back to England and doing Anglo/Italian family stuff we managed to keep smiling and getting on with things.

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Shortly after arriving in Spain Big Man celebrated a birthday and we are both most firmly of the opinion that all birthdays are worthy of recognition.  We had long wanted to visit an archaeological site near Seville called Itálica.  It’s an amazingly well preserved Roman City (although nowhere near as extensively excavated as Pompeii)  and birthplace of the emperors Trajan and Hadrian.  Bizarrely, few people seem to have heard of it. Even our Spanish family didn’t seem to know where we were heading off to.

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The amphitheatre is stunning and very atmospheric. Apparently the third largest in the Roman Empire at the time.

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Entry is free, which is wonderful,  and when we visited we felt as if we were almost on a private visit.

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And as for mosaics…heaven!

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Enjoy the photos,  it’s an amazing place. But don’t tell too many people or it will be crowded next time  we go!

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If you enjoyed this, take a look at a previous visit to a Moorish City we visited near Cordoba…

Red Shoes and Ruins

The best things in life are free, so they say.  On the whole I´m inclined to agree.  Love, friendship, laughter…oh, and blog awards.  They are all marvellous aren´t they?  Linda from Savoring Every Bite very kindly passed The (Red) Educational Shoe award onto me.

I can fully understand why she was awarded it in the first place, do pop on over to learn so much about Italian family, culture, food and generally about making every little moment in life into a special memory. When Linda passed the award on, she mentioned some of the “travels” she had been on via my blog, so today we´re going travelling. To just outside the beautiful City of Cordoba to be precise.  But before you pack your toothbrush I want to do the time honoured thing and pass this award on to a new blogging find.

JPWaldron has a fantastic blog which he calls “A free guide to foraging for all”.  See, I told you the best things in life are free.  If you live in the country, or aspire to or even just dream about it, I promise you´ll love what you find over there. And you´ll certainly learn a lot.  I´m sure he won´t mind being sent a red high heeled shoe…I think it´s a metaphorical shoe after all!

So, Cordoba.  I have a very soft spot for this beautiful city as Big Man and I had our first “date” there way back in September 2005.  Can you date when you´re a grown up? I like to think so.  Anyway, we go back there as often as we can and spent a fantastic weekend there at the end of January to celebrate my birthday.  I´ll show you some photos of this amazing city another day.

Today we´re heading about 10km out of town to an amazing archaeological site, The Medina Azahara or Madinat al-Zahra.  We´ve visited before, some 5 years ago and since our first visit an amazing vistor´s centre has been built and much more of this amazing abandoned city uncovered and restored.  Unbelievably, it´s free to go in, if you are ever lucky enough to be in the area, make it a priority.  It´s an incredible experience that you´ll always remember.

The city is considered to be one of the most important mediaeval archaeological sites in Spain. It covers 112 hectares and was the political and administrative capital of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) for a large part of the 10th Century.

There is something very special about this place, it never feels crowded and it´s easy to imagine the Caliph and his city doing business, receiving guests from around the world, and the thousands of servants keeping the city running.

There were several mosques, one of which can be seen clearly.

Stunning archways, this one they believe was the Prime Minister´s house.

Beautiful gardens…you can almost hear the trickle of water which flowed around the city.

So, do linger a while and soak up the peaceful atmosphere, and before you leave, take a final look back over the site and the city of Cordoba in the distance.

Hasta luego, come back soon…