From the AWW Dinner Party Cookbook No. 2, 1970s
Ed’s note – Welcome to Sarah and Emma, the Sydney-based members of the Bad Jelly team. This is their first post!
To say we approached our first recipe with enthusiasm is an understatement. We approached this with such reckless and misguided enthusiasm that we would have made Labrador puppies look bored. We scoured second hand shops for dishes, props and recipes books. For the first time ever our conversation was peppered with terms like “terrine, “jelly”, “mould”, “meet you at Vinnies” and “but that looks revolting”.
Then the time came when we had to pick our recipe. It was a toss up between a ham mousse (may make an appearance later) and a sort of celery octopus (again, on the list for later) until we saw the salmon mousse. It was glistening pink with lovingly placed gerkin slices and (of course) a gerkin tail. Apparently (according to Women’s Weekly) it makes an “excellent entrée or light lunch dish” and is also recommended as “fork food for parties”. Perfect.
We showed the boys who were less than enthusiastic, just asking “why?” with puzzled but indulgent expressions. We showed the kids who thought it was hilarious, then came back ten minutes later to confirm in worried little voices that they wouldn’t have to eat it.
Then time came to make it, and I think that in the back of our minds we both thought that while it looked horrible, we would be pleasantly surprised by the taste.
We were ruthless in sticking to the recipe – when it called for “chilli sauce” we found the most basic sauce we could (none of your fancy organic sun dried chilli needed here thanks) – and to be honest the recipe was pretty basic. You combined everything, poured it in to the oiled mould and put it in the fridge until it was set. We followed it to the letter and the only moment of anxiety was trying to get the mousse out of the mould. Finally, with the aid of judiciously placed hot water and then (when that didn’t work) just whacking on it a lot, it slid out and on to the board.
There it sat, wobbling slightly, in all its pink salmony glory. We whipped up the cucumber sauce recommended as an accompaniment (cream, mayonnaise, cucumber and sugar), dutifully sliced gerkins and served it up.
Here’s the verdict:
Alister: It’s sort of edible but not really in a good way. 1 out of 5 maraschino cherries.
Anthony: I almost like it a little bit but I don’t think I will have any more (later he confessed to feeling a bit sick but that might have been all the wine required to “get the taste out of my mouth”). 1 out of 5 maraschino cherries.
Sarah: All I can say is that I am glad we served it in the privacy of my own home and not to friends as “fork food for a party” or I think I would have very quickly had a lot less of them. The pleasant anticipation turned to apprehension after smelling it and then to slight gagging after the first mouthful. 1 out of 5 maraschino cherries.
Emma: Just horrible. I still can’t eat salmon. 1 out of 5 maraschino cherries.