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The word’s origin spirals down to an unexpected fungi connection. But regardless, the dish — hot or cold, sweet or savoury — is always a pleasure to eat.
Denoting a froth or foam, a mousse is a fluffy and airy creation that was once related to an old French word for mushroom: mousseron, a word related to “moss,” a place where mushrooms grow and which, imaginatively, has a spongy, mousse-like texture, it was thought. (See Mark Morton, Cupboard Love, for more details.)
In the kitchen, mousse is usually the result of the introduction of whipped cream or whipped egg white, that becomes the blank canvas on which the savoury cook paints with meat, fish and seafood or cheese.
Alternatively, a sweet dessert mousse often has a fruit purée or chocolate. When you melt the latter and add stiffly beaten egg whites, the volume can increase three-fold.
That done, the mousse’s bubble walls are reinforced and stabilized, so that when refrigerated and the fat congealed they can support themselves and stay fluffy and light for many hours.
The scrumptious soufflé, either sweet or savoury, starts off life as a mousse. And that brief wonderful moment of foam that temporarily dances on the top of your Champagne or other sparkling wine, when it’s poured, is referred to as the mousse.
You can find a classic cold salmon mousse ($12) ready for “porch pickup” take-out at Jake and Humphreys’ Bistro in New Hamburg. It’s served with tartar sauce, Melba toast and pickles.
[Image/ Lu via Wikimedia Commons]