I have never been one for big New Years Eve parties. Crowds of people, loud music, then standing there with a group of people who you don’t really know all that well, doing the count down – ” Five, four, three, two, one….HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!”
       Being kissed by hot, sweaty men who think that because it’s New Year it’s okay to kiss you very hard and occasionally even stick a tongue down your throat! No! As I said:I am not a great one for New Year parties. It could be the fact that I am single. When 12 o’clock is struck there is no one special whose arms will enfold me first. I wait for my friends to stop embracing their loved one and then…it’s my turn. As I said: New Year parties are not for me.
       Many years ago, when acting in a Pieter Toerien production in Cape Town, I became friendly with an actress, Janet du Plessis. On New Years Eve, we did our performance and afterwards joined everyone in The Baxter’s bar area to see the New Year in. They had a band playing and there was food, drinks and much festivity. I have no real memory of my time at The Baxter that evening. What I have a clear memory of is this: Jan and I obviously escaped and headed for Signal Hill. I remember sitting there in the dark sipping champagne that we had bought with us. We barely spoke. We sat there and drank in Cape Town at night. We could see the fireworks being let off by various ships. It was a clear sky and it was studded with millions of piecing stars. We barely spoke. That would have spoiled it. It was a blessed space in time.
       Recently I phoned Janet and asked her if she remembered that night. “Oh yes, she remembered it clearly.”
       It was twenty-five years ago and yet both of us shared something that night that was special.
       This year I had a different kind of New Year and yet special in it’s own way. We had a relaxed family New Year at Mum’s house. It is on those occasions that I really miss my youngest sister, Megs and her family. How I wish New Zealand wasn’t so far away! The family sat outside chatting, drinking and eating snacks.Then Mum called us in for our first course. That was when the evening changed completely! Mum had created this edible wonder in the kitchen: Gazpacho Soup.
      I wish that I could give to you all a taste of that ambrosial delight that made our entry into 2014 such a joy!  It was a cold soup made of tomatoes and…and other things! I asked Mum about the tomatoes. She used fresh tomatoes that had to be skinned and then the pips taken out. Mmmm,  not the easiest thing for a one handed cook like myself. In spite of that, I asked Mum for the recipe  by which this creation came into being. Mum altered the quantities to suit me.
Gazpacho Recipe (supper for two)
1 red pepper, de-seeded & finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled & finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
2 tbsp basil leaves, one chopped & one left whole for garnishing
600g ripe good quality tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded & chopped
300ml tomato juice
Small piece of cucumber, peeled & chopped
Dash of Tabasco
Dash of Worcester
Salt & Pepper freshly ground to season
Set aside the whole basil leaves
Mix all the other ingredients together and then leave to chill in fridge for about two hours.
Remove from fridge and blend until liquid but not totally smooth.
Return to fridge to chill.
Garnish with basil & extra virgin olive oil. Serve with warm ciabatta wedges!
        So this is my New Year present to all of you. Enjoy it. I know you will.
        Then make it again the next day!!!