College summers were strange, in-between seasons. Having experienced some independence going home for three months was stifling, but also happily familiar. I would hang around my hometown for a little while, comparing notes on the wider world with people I’d known since kindergarten, and then set out for further adventure.
Two hours away was the gleaming, grimy City. My best friend attended NYU and never looked back. She’d spend June through August traveling in Europe, herding classical musicians in Vermont at the Marlboro Music Festival, or subletting apartments with weirdos on the Upper West or Lower East Side. When I would visit her there, strange and wonderful things would happen.
I got a very regrettable tattoo on St Mark’s Place. We would find a large swath of astroturf and feel inspired to host a rooftop dinner party. We went to the Cloisters and Washington Square and wore dresses that looked like slips, or actually were slips, and met men we should not have met. We partied at the Frying Pan and took dance class downtown and went barefoot in the park.
Even after living in tropical Mexico, I think I’ve never been so hot as I was those summers in New York in the nineties, sweating on the subway underground. It never got cool, even overnight, and we slept in our underthings with the windows open, steeping in the sleepless city din.
Once, we made a gazpacho and I thought it was the most elegant thing I’d ever tasted. It tasted like freedom. Days like this, no matter where you are, it is just too sticky to cook. This recipe makes the most of fresh, simple summer flavors, and a dollop of wasabi adds the right amount of green root heat. It’s pretty and perfect with a little bit of sauteed shrimp, a bright tomato salad, a loaf of focaccia, and a glass of Cava or Prosecco. Salud!
Cucumber Wasabi Gazpacho
Serves 4-6 [sc:ziplist]
- 2 large English cucumbers, peeled, scooped, and chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- Handful celery leaves, torn
- Handful mint leaves, torn
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon wasabi paste
- Diced celery, garnish
- Diced cooked shrimp, garnish
- Diced cucumber, garnish
On high speed in a blender, whiz up all ingredients. Season to taste with salt. Serve in small cups, bowls, or glasses and garnish with celery, shrimp, and cucumber.