The History Dish: Gazpacho and the Red Snapper

The first “gaspacho” recipe, from 1824.

Yesterday I appeared on Heritage Radio Network’s We Dig Plants, the bawdiest horticulture show on the web.  This past Sunday’s show was all about tomatoes, and I popped on as a special guest to share some historic tomato recipes. You can listen to the whole show here.

I brought along a few tubs of gazpacho I made from an 1824 recipes.  They were crazy delicious (I saved the leftover for my lunch today).  Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife, published in 1824, has some of the earliest tomato recipes in print, and the first gazpacho recipe printed EVER on the planet.  At least that we know of.  The directions are pretty self explanatory, so here is the original recipe.

I did not stew and make my own tomato juice, I found this great, strained, tomato puree in a box at the store.  The gazpacho was more like a cold, fresh salad, and was really wonderful.  Carmen, one of the show’s hosts, even took some home to her tomato-hating husband in hopes that it would turn him into a tomato lover.

I also showed up with Bloody Marys–or, more accurately, Red Snappers, as they were originally known.  When the drink was created in the 1920s, vodka wasn’t yet widely available in the United States; the liquor of choice was gin!  The recipe for the Red Snapper, from the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis hotel in New York, is below. I actually prefer the gin over vodka; I would recommend Hendrick’s gin; the cucumber notes compliment the tomatoes beautifully.

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The Red Snapper
From the St. Regis Bar, 1920s

1 1/2 oz Gin
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
4 ounces tomato juice

Combine all ingredients in a glass and shake or stir to mix.  Serve chilled.

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Both of these recipes are great if you need to use up a tomato surplus; For more history on both of these recipes, listen to the entire radio show here!

And on a somewhat unrelated note, I attended my first “crawfish boil” yesterday at the Brooklyn Brainery’s Summer Explosion.  I was all geared up to eat my first crayfish, but the sight of their yellow guts spilling out of their exoskeletons turned me off.  I don’t do well with invertebrates.  Instead, I stuffed my face with peach cobbler.

2 Responses to “The History Dish: Gazpacho and the Red Snapper”


  • Recipes for gazpacho were printed prior to Randolph’s. There’s one in the 18th century cookbook “Arte de reposteria,” by Juan de La Mata of Madrid, Spain. Gazpacho is a centuries-old dish. In fact, it pre-dates exploration of the Americas, and so gazpacho originally contained NO tomatoes.

  • That’s so interesting! I had read it was considered a “peasant” dish in Spain; reminded me a bit of ratatouille.

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