Gazpacho and the Half-Birthday Chinese Longevity Noodle

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a princess wait.  I got a little carried away.  The title of this post made me think that I needed to make up a children's book or something.  Not so.  Recipe first, then Half-Birthday Chinese Longevity Noodle.

Gazpacho (Cold Tomato and Cucumber Soup) - from Uncle Marvin of Maine
1 large can (32 oz) whole peeled tomatoes OR 3 1/2 cups fresh diced tomatoes
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar (I used white wine vinegar - still good!)
1 very large cucumber, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon salt
Garnish: 1 chopped green pepper, seeds removed (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.  Top with chopped green pepper if desired.  Serves 6.  (note: don't add the green pepper to the blender, as it will turn the soup a muddy brown).
*Add more vinegar and garlic - to good effect (according to Uncle Marvin)
**This was my first ever gazpacho experience.  It was highly rewarding.  

What does Gazpacho have to do with a Half-Birthday Chinese Longevity noodle, you ask?  Well, not much, except that both are eaten out of bowls, and both happened to me in the past week.  I was given this recipe for gazpacho last summer, after my parents visited Uncle Marvin of Maine, and was told that I just had to try it.  Well, it turned out to be a bad summer for tomatoes so we used them all in salsa instead of soup.  However, this year I've already collected a bag of tomatoes from the co-op I'm a part of, and since I had some cucumbers in there too I was inspired to puree.  That, and the fact that it was a no-cook, cold  option on a 90 degree day.  I highly recommend this.  Love the vinegar.  And next time I'll probably add another garlic clove or two.

The story of the Half-Birthday Chinese Longevity Noodle goes like this: my friends A and T lived in China for a couple of years, and introduced me to the notion of the Longevity Noodle.  According to custom, one must eat this special noodle on one's birthday - all in one piece, without breaking the noodle - to ensure continued progress of life without untimely interruption - er, death.  

I hope this video works ... here's a pretty valiant effort at eating the Longevity Noodle by one andywangduck found on youtube:

Well, our most recent potluck theme was Birthday, in honor of the half-birthday of yours truly.  A and T were kind enough to honor my request for the birthday noodle and produced a tamer Virginia version of the Chinese Longevity Noodle (and no, I didn't make it through without breaking the noodle.  Sorry, fate.  I promise I'm not trying to tempt you).  

A big thanks and shout-out to such great friends, and all the others who made my half-birthday celebration so much fun.  And most of all, I hope this post inspires YOU to connect two things that have nothing to do with each other, throw the word "birthday" in there, and write me a children's book.

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