On this day in 1912, my favorite appliance, the electric air conditioner, started working. It was invented by Willis Haviland Carrier in Buffalo, New York. Carrier was building on earlier inventions by Ding Huan during the 2nd century Han Dynasty, Cornelis Drebble who “turned summer into winter” for James I of England, and Benjamin Franklin who conducted an experiment to explore the principle of evaporation as a means to rapidly cool an object. The success of the experiment caused Franklin to conclude that “one may see the possibility of freezing a man to death on a warm summer’s day.” Fortunately, the air conditioner has always been, to the best of my knowledge, a force for good.
With the temperature slated to reach 100 degrees in the northeast, celebrate Carrier’s invention with this traditional Spanish white soup from Andalusia (where it was only 95 degrees today).
AJO BLANCO CON UVAS
1/2 c. blanched almonds
4 slices stale baguette or white bread, crusts removed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 c. water
5 T. olive oil
4 T. sherry vinegar
16-20 seedless green grapes, frozen
1 t. salt or more, to taste
Place bread in 1-2 cups cold water to soak.
While bread is soaking, blend garlic and almonds into a food processor until smooth
Remove bread from water and squeeze out excess water. Tear bread into quarters and add bread and salt and blend.
While blending, slowly drizzle olive oil, then vinegar, then water into blender or processor. Taste. Adjust salt, vinegar and oil to taste.
Strain through a sieve into a soup tureen. Chill at least 2-3 hours or overnight. Garnish with frozen grapes.