Mustard

{This one is for you, Ken.}

I guarantee it will not be quite as exciting as last week’s post about ketchup. Try not to fall asleep.

There is not much controversy over mustard: no preferences for pronunciation, no marketing struggles, no government definitions for health.

The only real controversy that I know of surrounding mustard is brown or yellow…course or fine.

So, I can almost promise that this post will be short, quick, and to the point.

The word “mustard” comes from the Latin mustum ardens, which translates to “burning must”.

Mustard, unlike ketchup, began as a medicinal treatment back in the sixth century B.C. It was ground up and mixed into a paste, either alone or with other elements. The paste was then used as treatment for various illnesses or conditions. It was used by Pythagoras as a treatment for scorpion stings. Hippocrates then used it centuries later in poultices to remedy toothaches and such.

It was the Romans who first began using mustard, mixed with wine, as a condiment.

One difference between mustard and ketchup is that, for those of the Christian faith, mustard (the mustard seed) bears a religious symbolism. The mustard seed is used metaphorically in the Bible, specifically in the books of Matthew (Parable of the Mustard Seed), Mark, and Luke, to refer to something small and insignificant which can grow into something meaningful, complete, life-giving.

“He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Pope John XII loved mustard so much that he created a new position in the Vatican. The position was called the mustard-maker to the Pope: grand moutardier du pape.

The rest is history.

And, in the interest of history, here are a few last parting facts about mustard that you may or may not already know:

  • Heinz first began producing mustard in 1720.
  • Del Monte, Libby’s , and Campbell’s had their own versions of mustard…at one point in their history.
  • French’s mustard, one of the most recognized brands of mustard used in America, is actually owned by a British/Dutch company called Reckitt Benckiser.
  • Everyone has heard the phrase “cut the mustard“, which means that you can’t handle the heat. This comes from a fact about grinding mustard. Mustard seeds have to be ground in a certain way so as not to release the oil. If the oil is exposed, it will evaporate and take much of the mustard flavor with it.
  • A baseball pitcher can “put some mustard on” to get his fastball to go faster and result in a strikeout.
  • Other uses include mustard greens (which I hear are tasty when they are sautéed) and mustard gas (not so good).

So, next time you go to a sporting event or tailgate, remember my blog posts. If nothing else, when the conversation gets slow you now have some mundane facts to throw into the mix to get the party started again.

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Bluth or Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss (Bluth).

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2 thoughts on “Mustard

  1. Lashawnda says:

    Great tremendous things here. I am very satisfied to see your article. Thanks a lot.

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