Aspic is a savory meat gelatin of importance in the presentation of French food. Traditionally it is made by the slow cooking of poultry with the bones of lamb and other mammals, then filtered. Nowadays, of course, many people just use plain gelatin and season it with meat stock. The trusty culinary encyclopedia Larousse gastronomique of Prosper Montagné (1865-1948) advises that aspics be either clear or else some shade of yellow-brown from amber to caramel. Ideally, he says, one aspic of each type should be used.

Aspic is used as a garnish on many kinds of cold dishes, giving meats (for instance) a shiny patina. Sometimes cold foods (the fictional larks' tongues, say) are set in aspic, which is molded into various shapes. The Larousse remarks that the etymology given by Webster 1913 of "asp" is unsound; it suggests, instead, that the etymon may be Greek aspis "shield", noting that at one time aspic was commonly molded into that shape.

Aspic is generally savory (salty) and mild in flavor. The aspic coating on French paté, however, is often highly seasoned. I like to hold it on my tongue and let it melt slowly, releasing its rich savor. My mother used to make oeufs en gelée (eggs in aspic) from time to time - poached eggs chilled in seasoned aspic and served each on its own slice of ham. The eggs were cooked just to the point where they would run, but not too much. A whole serving was only a few bites, but the memory of it would stay with you for days.

As"pic (#), n. [F. See Asp.]

1.

The venomous asp.

[Chiefly poetic]

Shak. Tennyson.

2.

A piece of ordnance carrying a 12 pound shot.

[Obs.]

 

© Webster 1913.


As"pic, n. [F., a corrupt. of spic (OF. espi, F. 'epi), L. spica (spicum, spicus), ear, spike. See Spike.]

A European species of lavender (Lavandula spica), which produces a volatile oil. See Spike.

 

© Webster 1913.


As"pic, n. [F., prob. fr. aspic an asp.]

A savory meat jelly containing portions of fowl, game, fish, hard boiled eggs, etc.

Thackeray.

 

© Webster 1913.

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