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Mustard From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

Mustard From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

From À l'ancienne variety to the Zealot man who only dresses in yellow, 26 facts you can't miss about mustard plant, seeds and tasty recipes.

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À l'ancienne. Moutarde à l'ancienne is the famous French old-school variety made with marinated whole mustard seeds. Usually sweeter than Dijon-style mustard, one of the greatest moutardes à l'ancienne is from Meaux.

Brassicaceae. This family includes mustard plants. Brassica nigra, with its tiny black, highly pungent seeds, has been used as a spice since prehistoric times. They were found in cooking pots used in China.

Canada. The biggest mustard maker produces between 30 and 40% of the world's supply. Nepal comes in second, then the Czech Republic, Russia and Ukraine.

Dijon. The most celebrated French mustard is made in this city, where producers formed a cooperative around 1550. It is one of the strongest types, made with brown and black mustard seeds, and a favorite for vinaigrette.

Estragon. The French name for tarragon, an essential ingredient in a popular Dijon variant that goes well with chicken and cold meats. Game is often enjoyed with cassis-flavored mustard.

France. Typical French mustard is made of mustard seeds, often crushed into powder, mixed with verjuice, an acid liquor made from unripe grapes. Other ingredients include sugar, honey, vinegar, wine and milk.

Gas. They are usually yellow-brown in color and have an odor resembling mustard plants: sulfur mustards, commonly known as mustard gas, are a class of and vesicant chemical warfare agents with the ability to form large blisters on the exposed skin and in the lungs.

Honey. Sweet mustard can be made at home by adding a tablespoon of honey (and an optional drop of cream) to a 1∕4 cup of mustard. Great with meats like roast pork, and cheeses.

Italian mustard. Called senape in Italian. Closer to the word "mustard" is mostarda, a very different kind of condiment made of syrupy candied fruit aromatized with 1∕4 part mustard seed.

Juncea. Brassica juncea is a species of mustard plant, also called Chinese or Indian mustard. The plant is a cross between Brassica nigra and Brassica rapa, edible greens eaten especially in Northern Africa, India and Central Asia.

Karashi. Japanese mustard made from crushed seeds of black, white and brown mustard (nigra, alba and wheat-free juncea). Particularly hot, it is a great condiment for one of Japan's most popular snacks, nikuman, puffy steamed buns stuffed with pork.

Louisiana style. Creole mustard is the type enjoyed in Southeastern USA, particularly Louisiana. With its grainy texture and distinctive tang, it is different from the common yellow hot-dog mustard, which is milder and brighter in color for the turmeric it contains.

Mustum ardens. The word "mustard" comes from the Latin mustum ardens, "burning must". In antiquity, the seeds were ground in the must of sweet, aged fermented wine.

Nose. Avoir la moutarde qui monte au nez translates to feeling "the mustard rise to your nose", a French expression for losing one's temper, in reference to the sudden spicy heat felt in the nose and throat, provoked by several of mustard's volatile molecules.

Oil. The oil extracted from mustard plants is widely used in Asian cuisine. In Nepal and parts of India, it is the daily cooking oil, besides having a place of honor in general culture, where it is used to massage newborns, included in offerings to divinities, cosmetics and applied to musical instruments.

Pope. Moutarde Violette de Brive is made with mustard seeds and grape must (grape pressings from wine) and used as a condiment for blood pudding, salt pork or cold meats. It became famous in the 14th century, when Pope Clement VI was so nostalgic for the taste of this sauce from his childhood that he summoned an expert to Avignon, naming him "Master Mustard-Maker to the Pope".

Quote. "Almost anything is edible with a dab of French mustard on it," says the celebrated British food writer Nigel Slater. And of course he is not the only one to think so.

Rémoulade. Of French origin, this is one of the many tasty sauces where mustard is a key ingredient. Rémoulade is a favorite in many places, including Denmark and Louisiana, USA. Chopped pickles, capers and aromatic herbs are added to a base of mayonnaise.

Sarson da saag. A popular vegetable dish in Pakistan and the Punjab region of India, made from fresh mustard leaves (sarson) cooked with spices.

Third. Mustard is third place in the condiment consumption ranks - after salt and pepper.

United Kingdom. English mustard is obtained by mixing powdered brown mustard seeds with a smaller quantity of powdered white mustard seeds and wheat flour. It is usually stronger than the French kind and does not contain vinegar.

Vienna sausage. As the inevitable accompaniment of frankfurters, there are three types of German mustard: the very piquant Süsser Senf from Dusseldorf, also called English mustard; the Bavarian type, which is sweeter and also called American mustard; and the one from Eastern Germany, which is lighter in color and less pungent.

White. Brassica hirta or Sinapis alba is called white mustard in Europe and yellow mustard in North America. It grows in mild climates like that of the Mediterranean, and its seeds are much larger than those of other mustard plants. Its flavor is lighter than that of Brassica nigra (black mustard).

XIV Century. In Bourgogne, France, mustard used to be a collector's item. Small white earthenware jars were sealed with thick cork tops, covered with tin caps and sealed with wax.

Yellow. Since 1886, the color mustard designates a dark, warm shade of yellow, identical to the condiment.

Zealot. A man named Barry Levinson is so obsessed with mustard that he only dresses in yellow and even brushes his teeth with his favorite condiment. His collection, worth 125 thousand dollars, features 5,500 different types.

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