Monday, December 31, 2012

Jellied Salad

The word “congealed” today has a negative connotation when it comes to foodstuffs. We use this word when describing something that has sat out on the table too long and become inedible. A mayonnaise-based salad, for example, will take on an alarming transparent glazed look after several hours. This out to indicate to any casual observer that the salad must not, under any circumstances, be eaten, for it has become toxic.

But this is not what the word “congealed” means.

Congeal dates from the late 14th century Old French congeler, meaning to freeze or thicken — which in turn comes from the Latin congelare, meaning to freeze together. Com means together; gelare means to freeze.

An ice cream or sorbet, then, is congealed. Ideas can become congealed in your mind if they cease to be fluid.

You never want someone to remark on your intellect as “a shimmering interplay between aspic and mousse,” for example.

 Salads, Time-Life Books, 1979

Also from this book: Eat Your Vegetables, Mind Your Tongue
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