My Aunt Chris grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. Her family lived on the wrong side of the tracks, but Chris was very fortunate. Intelligent and beautiful, she was engaged to a good-looking young man from a prominent family that owned a large construction company.
Chris and George shared a love of art and had met in an art gallery. A year later they were married in a lavish ceremony in a beautiful cathedral. As a wedding present George’s parents gave them a luxurious home in an upscale neighbourhood. His grandparents’ gifted the couple with money so they could follow their dream of owning an art gallery.
When they had the gallery open for business, Chris decided to throw a lavish party. She invited the crème de la crème of Glasgow society and was thrilled to learn that prominent businessmen, lawyers, the Mayor, and their high-society wives, were planning to attend her party.
As she prepared for the party, one detail had Chris stumped. She wanted a spectacular dish for the buffet. Finally she came up with the idea of a salmon mousse.
Chris was pleased with the artistry of her creation when it was finished. The pink mousse was in the shape of a salmon, with a thick, curved tail. Sliced almonds were set in rows along the salmon’s back for scales, with a slice of black olive and a piece of almond for its eye.
The guests were about to start arriving when Chris was walking through the dining room. To her horror, spotted their orange cat on the table. The cat was chowing down on her salmon mousse! Angrily, she grabbed the cat and tossed him out the kitchen door.
Chris just couldn’t bring herself to throw the salmon mousse out. So she took a spoon and smoothed over the spot where the cat had eaten. She was just finishing the job when the doorbell rang with the first of the guests.
The party was going well when Chris suddenly remembered the cat.
Going to the kitchen door to let him in, she was shocked to find the cat lying on the doorstep – stone cold dead.
Realizing that the cat had been the first to eat the salmon mousse, in a panic Chris phoned the hospital and told the doctor-on-call what had happened. There was no alternative – everyone who had eaten the salmon mousse would have to go to the hospital.
Chris was mortified. How would she and George ever live this down? Hours later the guests had all had their stomachs pumped and Chris and George returned home, exhausted and depressed. They were just getting out of the car when their neighbour rushed over from her house.
“I’m so sorry!” the woman said. “Your cat ran behind me just as I was backing out of my driveway, and I was so rushed that all I had time to do was put him on your step. I came over as soon as I got back, but you were gone!”
It was not long after the disastrous party that my Aunt Chris and Uncle George decided to move to Canada.
Chris’ Salmon Mousse
To make this dish you will need a 6-cup salmon-shaped mold.
Stir together in a saucepan or microwave-safe cup:
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 envelopes unflavoured gelatin
Let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat or in a microwave oven, covered, on high until dissolved, about 45 seconds. Let cool for a few minutes, then stir in:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
Combine in a food processor:
- 2 cans Sockeye salmon, drained, skin and bones removed
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 shallots, minces
- 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped sweet pickles, or pickle relish
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- Ground red or white pepper to taste
Pulse briefly just until combined. Do not overprocess. Add the gelatin mixture and pulse once just to combine.
Using a mixer, beat until stiff peaks form:
Gently fold the salmon mixture into the cream. Oil the fish mold and spoon the mixture into it. Smooth the top, cover, and refrigerate until firm, 3 to 4 hours.
To unmold, submerge two-thirds of the mold in very hot water for 20 to 30 seconds and immediately invert the mousse onto a serving platter. Garnish with:
- Watercress sprigs, thinly sliced cucumber, or lemon wedges.
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