Southern Living

We tested our favorite kids against this slippery Southern recipe. Although the words “tomato aspic” might be foreign to younger generations, Southern cooks have been making this congealed salad for years. Tomato aspic is a savory congealed salad, unlike the more familiar fruit salads. There’s no set ingredient list for tomato aspic, but it usually contains tomato juice and a variety of veggies, as well as gelatin for the famous bouncy texture. It might not sound appetizing to all, but this brightly colored salad was a former ladies’ luncheon staple. Unsurprisingly, tomato aspic recipes have graced the pages of Southern Living a time or two. Since congealed salads are mostly out of date (although Mama does still enjoy a fruit cake at Christmastime), we knew the results would be interesting if we introduced a group of Southern kids to this vintage recipe.

It seemed like most of the kids were confused by the aspic’s Jell-O-like appearance but completely un-Jell-O smell and taste, similar to being tricked by a raisin cookie that you thought was a chocolate chip one (“I want the jelly…This don’t look like jelly”). One of the kids summed up the tomato-aspic experience well: “It looks like something that you would want to try, but like when you try it, it’s something that you don’t really want to try.” There were only a few brave souls who actually tasted the tomato aspic, and the reviews were almost all negative (“Did y’all try this? It’s nasty”). Surprisingly, a few of the kids actually took a liking to this squishy vintage salad (“It kind of tastes like breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a treat”). Although many vintage recipes can stand the test of time, the consensus from these Southern kids was that tomato aspic is a recipe that’s probably better left in the past.

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