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There are several theories about the origin of the word 'mousse.' Here is one that I find particularly fascinating.

In ancient Rome honey was mixed with wine to make a beverage called mulsum, which is related to mel, meaning honey. A Late Latin relative is the word mulsa, meaning mead or hydromel. This word mulsa became mousse in French, meaning 'froth', and was later (in the late 19th century) taken into English to mean a sweet frothy desert. Words can take long, roundabout trips to get here!

Today a mousse is a light fluffy (frothy) mixture, either sweet or savory, with whipped cream and/or beaten egg whites and/or gelatin. They can be served hot or cold, and some sweet mousses are frozen.

Sweet mousses are usually made with chocolate or fruit purées, and most contain whipped cream.

Savory mousses are made with puréed or ground foods (salmon, shellfish, poultry etc). Hot mousses usually contain beaten egg whites, and are frequently stabilized with gelatin.


A word about mousseline. This is a very general French term for any light fluffy preparation, made so by the addition of whipped cream. Usually a mousseline is made in a mold with puréed seafood, meat, foie gras etc. Mousseline is also used for hollandaise sauce with whipped cream folded in. The origin of the word is NOT the same as for ‘mousse.’ Mousseline in French means ‘muslin’, the fine shear fabric.

If you would like some good recipes have a look at James' website click here

Chef James EhlerThis article is from Chef James Ehler of Key West, Florida.

James is a webmaster, cook, chef, writer and (like me) a self-confessed computer nerd. He is the former executive chef of Martha's Steak & Seafood Restaurant and the former Reach Hotel (both in Key West), the Hilton Hotel in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the New Bern Golf and Country Club, North Carolina.

He is now webmaster and cook at the Blue Heaven Restaurant in Key West while he works on his Food Encyclopedia (five years so far). It is well worth paying a visit to James' food reference website which is a useful resource well worth Bookmarking - to visit either website just click on their title:

The Food Reference Website
The Blue Heaven Restaurant, Key West, Florida

© James T. Ehler, 2001
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