Thursday, January 7, 2010

The World You're Looking for is Terrifying. Or Sadistic.

I try not to judge any food too harshly until I've sampled it for myself. I consider it only fair that every food get a chance to impress my palate. Surely enough some will fail (ham), but others will have amazing success (sushi). Eventually some will even overcome my dislike and become tolerable (once again, ham).

There are a few exceptions, though. Most notably is my staunch resistance to trying brains of any kind. My grandmother swears by cow brains and ensures me that I would find them incredibly flavorful, but I can't get past the whole Hannibal Lector-ness of it all. Think Ray Liotta in Hannibal. You remember the scene, right? If not, I'm sorry and yet I'm not. Bottom line on brains? No thanks. I'll pass. You go, though, Grandma. You go.

Last night, thanks in part to my continued reading of Julie & Julia before bed, I stumbled across aspic. Pronounced as-pik. Aspic is the fodder of horror film buffet scenes; the fabric of food nightmares. Aspic is the most gelatinous menace I've ever laid eyes on.

I. Am. Frightened.

If you have not yet laid eyes on aspic, let me initiate you into the world of those of us who have seen its jiggly, Jell-O likeness.

This particular aspic holds within its jelly eggs and chicken. Let me say that one more time for effect. Eggs. And Chicken. Inside a "meat jelly."

First of all, who thought it was appropriate to combine the words 'meat' and 'jelly?' These are two words that do not belong together. I know of many a person who shuns the combination of 'jalapeno' and 'jelly' (I am not one of them), let alone 'meat.' I'll sit beside you while we discuss all the ways berries and hot peppers can be combined to make jelly. I will agree with you when you say a really ripe pear pairs nicely with a so-hot-you-want-to-cry Habanero. I'll even defend you against the heckles thrown out there by my best girlfriends and my boyfriend. If you throw meat in there, though, I beg your pardon, but I'm going to have to hop off the combo bus at the next stop.

I cannot wrap my mind around the concept of jelly, or even the less gag-inducing-but-still-stomach-churning Jell-O, with meat flavor. No, you're not going to change my mind by mentioning that Julia Child used a "nice" aspic, or that Martha Stewart prizes and pushes her "Yellow Gazpacho Aspic" as recently as July 2005. It doesn't matter to me. It is still aspic, ingredients set into a mold using meat stock or consomme and gelatin.

Pretty means nothing.

Fancy decorations to distract the eye mean even less.

Attempts to look appetizing fail.

May I add that if that is fruit in a meat stock, I don't think I could be in the same room with this little number. Sassy-looking as it may be - and how loosely can you use the term sassy? - I just can't get down with this salty-sweet combination attempt.

Frankly, exotic ingredients do very little to tantalize me either.

You are a sneaky little minx, though, aren't you aspic? You try so hard; you look so gray.

Aspic in all its forms - or at least all the forms I can dig up on the web - does nothing for me. Well, it does make me want to poke it with a spoon. Or dig into it with a fork just to see what the mold transforms into when punctured. I may even be inclined to chop-chop it for fun. But eat it? Oh no. In that regard, aspic does nothing for me.

The real question is why am I so interested in making it then? The challenge. Pure and simple. I won't eat the darned thing, I know that much. I will, however, attempt to tempt others to try.

I am, officially, a food sadist.

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