September 21, 2015
gelée de tomates
On October 25th, 2009, in Stockton, California, at about 12:15 pm, I ate tomato aspic for the first time. I had avoided it for over sixty years, but I didn’t even try to avoid it this time. I knew my time had come. It was tasty, but it was also a symbol of all that was bad about food from the 1950s. Unlike other gelatin‑based pot‑luck dishes, my mother didn’t eat tomato aspic, and she never made me try it. I was stuck with the other gelatin dishes, and I didn’t like those.
Even though many Internet references cite tomato aspic as a dish that originated in the 1960s—one even claims that the first recipe for tomato aspic was in the 1970 Betty Crocker Cookbook—there is a lot of evidence to show that the dish was popular in the 1950s. During the period, Jell‑O even produced a “seasoned tomato” flavor—imitation of course—for use in salads.
Even though my first experience eating tomato aspic was pleasant. (Truth be told, it wasn’t my first experience with gelatinized tomato pulp. That was a French dessert
I prepared in 2004.) I didn’t rush out and recreate the experience. The dish still didn’t sound appetizing to me. When faced with a 250 ml (1 c) of unfiltered tomato water
last June, I decided that one “aspic” of my life should change.
250 ml (1 c)
unfiltered tomato water
Cholula‑brand chipotle hot sauce
5 g (1⁄2 T)
unflavored, granulated gelatin
finely minced flat‑leaf parsley
1. Combine the tomato water, hot sauce, and salt in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Let the gelatin swell for a couple of minutes.
2. While stirring, heat the mixture gently until the gelatin is melted.
3. Using a 1‑T ladle, divide the hot tomato‑water mixture between small serving bowls. Refrigerate the bowls.
4. Prior to serving, whisk the mayonnaise and parsley together. Place a quarter‑teaspoon dab of the sauce on each tomato‑water gelatin just prior to serving.
Yield: 12 servings.