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Gazpacho and Politics 

A conversation while making dinner one night ...

The Scene:

Early evening in a smallish kitchen in an adobe home in the middle of the desert. Two guys, each having a beer as they get ready to cook: taking chopping boards from cabinets, bowls from cupboards, etc. Yours Truly (YT), kneeling at the open fridge door, passes up to Andrew the Patient (AtP) cukes, celery, scallions, cilantro, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and bell peppers--a gazpacho is a-birthin'.

The Players:

The aforementioned Andrew (AtP), 30-something, blond, wiry and sharply angular; and Yours Truly (YT), mid-50s, zaftig, gray and grizzled. A populist collie mix and an aristocratic black pug sit and watch, keenly attentive to any bits that might fall from the countertop.

The Occasion:

An improvised meal, one of hundreds over the years, perhaps now less frequent but never less valued. It's a day before the primary election. They begin working, side by side. The dogs circle ...

YT: We're sous-chefing for each other tonight ... what do you want to start chopping?

AtP: Cukes, onions, celery. Hey ... what was that forum like last week? The Republicans, right? Did you do the Democrats, too?

YT: I'll get the rest, and we'll split the tomatoes. Yeah ... it was the elephants ... I wanted to hear them on the issues. I've got a pretty good grasp on donkeythink. I've been able to talk with most of them 1-on-1 at some point or another the past few months, but the advertising has addled my mind.

AtP: The ads! Yeesh! I have this vision of the Republicans all lined up, shoulder to shoulder, in camouflage, arms linked, personally protecting us from hordes waiting to cross the border and ravish us. I watched a little of the forum on TV--was it as scary in person?

YT: Nah. Actually, they were a pretty civil group. The border is the uniting issue, but how to handle it is a dividing one. The Democrats have the same conflicts. Different volumes, slightly different frequencies.

AtP: I know ... it's like a multigender game of "Qui es mas macho?" And the ads! Yikes!

YT: You mean like the national Dems paying for pro-Graf ads that Huffman claims are simply a plot to divide the Republican vote?

AtP: (laughing) They are eating each other up! I really like the ad that's touted as supporting smokers, but it's backed by industries that do not want to ban smoking. Hey! Do we need THAT much garlic?

YT: Sorry ... forgot what I was chopping. I'm actually not so worried about the congressional race--Huffman or Graf, Giffords or Weiss--I think Baja Arizona will sort that out in the general election. But the props scare me. Yeah, the "Non-Smoker Protection Act" is hypocrisy, but they are right--people can choose if they want to patronize a business in which smoking is permitted. But Proposition 107, the Protect Marriage Arizona amendment ... it's unbelievable in the 21st century!

AtP: The idiocy is that it will take away health insurance from children of domestic partners, take away domestic-violence protections from unmarried people, take away the rights of unmarried couples to hospital visitation and medical decision-making. And for what?

YT: For what, indeed, me beauty? Another nice thing it will do is bounce us off the list of progressive states in which Fortune 500 companies like to do business. I read a report last week that 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 89 percent of U.S. citizens believe that gays and lesbians--another group that will be significantly impacted if this proposition passes--should have workplace-nondiscrimination protection.

AtP: I guess it's easier being a simple sous-chef, hey?

YT: Much! Hey! Look! We're done chopping. Let's put it together, chill and watch a movie. What did you bring?

AtP: Something appropriate ... The Mouse That Roared.

Exeunt all, save the dogs, who did find some errant vegetable cuttings.


A Spicy but Apolitical Gazpacho

  • 1 large can Campbell's tomato juice
  • 1 can Campbell's beef bouillon
  • Six stalks celery
  • Three cucumbers
  • 6-8 medium ripe tomatoes
  • Six scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
Peel cukes; cut and dice finely with celery. Reserve cleaned celery tops and handful of diced cukes. Mince garlic and thinly slice scallions. Reserve a little of the garlic and onions. Chop cilantro. Core and dice bell peppers. Reserve a little of both red and yellow bell peppers.

In a large gallon glass jar, layer chopped celery, cukes, scallions, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, bell peppers. In a small blender, puree the reserve vegetables with a little tomato juice. Pour on top of layered vegetables. Cover and turn jar, and mix contents thoroughly.

Add large can of tomato juice and undiluted can of bouillon. Cover and turn jar to mix thoroughly and place in refrigerator 'til completely chilled. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, sliced avocadoes and flatbread.

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