Everyone should be an expert in some field or other, and I’m thinking that my field of expertise should be mustards. After all, mustard and I go way back. My early days of spiced ham and cheese sandwiches were slathered with Gulden’s spicy brown mustard, though in our local minor league ballpark and at the concession stands of my Pop Warner football games, the more ubiquitous French’s yellow mustard was offered. Even as a young boy, yellow mustard seemed unremarkable and lowbrow to me. The brightness of the yellow, in particular, seemed to indicate the absence of subtlety and perhaps a dose of food coloring (but hey, it improved a hotdog, so if it was all that was available, I used it).
In my teen years, my parents converted to the religion of Dijon mustard, no doubt thanks to the marketing geniuses behind Grey Poupon. With deep Quebec roots, kids like us thought of ourselves as French (to the dismay of actual French people), and I wonder if my parents bought into the notion that putting Grey Poupon in our fridge made us kindred spirits with chauffeur-driven French elites who ate 3 course meals and passed the wine-infused condiment from one Rolls Royce to another.
One thing that confused me about those commercials was that the narrator always pronounced the “n” at the end of Poupon, sort of like “don’t let the dog poop on the carpet.” Even those of us with complicated and circuitous connections to France knew to eliminate that last consonant sound.
The world, of course, is filled with mustards beyond Gulden’s, French’s, and Grey Poupon, and I intend to explore the many varieties and devote a page of this website to rating mustards on a scale of 1 to 100. Anything 90 or above is very high-quality mustard, worthy of Mustard Pat’s “Golden Seed” award. First up: Inglehoffer hot Dijon mustard, which I will sneak into the next mustard, feta, prosciutto, and saurkraut stuffed chicken cutlets I make. Reports to follow.