August 5

Mustard

Today allegedly is <strong>National Mustard Day.</strong> I'm all for mustard. I don't think we use it nearly enough. Here in New Orleans, we're lucky enough to have a home-grown, unique variety of mustard that gives many of our dishes a distinctive flavor. One of the most ubiquitous sauces in Creole cookery--remoulade, in all its different colors and recipes--includes a good bit of Creole mustard. Mustard is made from the seeds of a member of the cabbage family native to Europe. The seeds contain oil, so when they're crushed they become a paste. When water is added, a sulfuric compound in the seeds reacts to give the sharply flavored mustard bite. It fades away unless something acidic (vinegar, usually) is added. Mustard has been used to flavor food in Europe since ancient times. Mustard seeds come in many colors, but yellow is not one of them. The yellow color in prepared mustards and Colman's dried mustard powder comes from the addition of turmeric. The plant that grows mustard seeds is also eaten as greens. But that's another flavor, another matter, for another day.

Days Until. . .

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Food Calendar

Today allegedly is National Mustard Day. I'm all for mustard. I don't think we use it nearly enough. Here in New Orleans, we're lucky enough to have a home-grown, unique variety of mustard that gives many of our dishes a distinctive flavor. One of the most ubiquitous sauces in Creole cookery--remoulade, in all its different colors and recipes--includes a good bit of Creole mustard. Mustard-HotDog Mustard is made from the seeds of a member of the cabbage family native to Europe. The seeds contain oil, so when they're crushed they become a paste. When water is added, a sulfuric compound in the seeds reacts to give the sharply flavored mustard bite. It fades away unless something acidic (vinegar, usually) is added. Mustard has been used to flavor food in Europe since ancient times. Mustard seeds come in many colors, but yellow is not one of them. The yellow color in prepared mustards and Colman's dried mustard powder comes from the addition of turmeric. The plant that grows mustard seeds is also eaten as greens. But that's another flavor, another matter, for another day.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Mustard, Pennsylvania is a small exurban development of houses in the wooded hills twenty-one miles southeast of Pittsburgh, not far from the YoughioghenyRiver. The nearest place to look for a hot dog to put the mustard on a potential hot dog is the Eagle's Landing restaurant, two and a half miles away.

Edible Dictionary

mostarda, n.--As the Italian name suggests, this thick sauce contains mustard--but not enough of it to make mustard the dominant flavor. The most important part of the many kinds of mostarda is fruit, sugar, and herbs, and pepper. Its most celebrated use is as a garnish for the Northern Italian dish bollito misto, the Italian answer to the New England boiled beef. The New Orleans equivalent of mostarda is that mixture of horseradish and ketchup that old-time restaurants serve with boiled brisket (like Tujague's and the Bon Ton make.

Deft Dining Rule #261

If the mustard a restaurant brings to the table is coarse-ground brown stuff in a little dish (as opposed to yellow stuff in a plastic squeeze bottle), you're in the right place to eat sausage.

World Food Records

On this date in 1990, a one-hundred-layer cake was baked and assembled. It measured 1214 inches high. It was the showpiece at the Shiawassee County Fair in Corunna, Michigan. They must have a lot of time on their hands around there. A rumor that the purchase of all the candles needed to top it caused the price of birthday candles to spiral uncontrollably has not been confirmed. Near as I can tell, this still holds the record for the world's highest cake.

Eating Around The World

BurkinaFasoFlag This is Independence Day in Burkina Faso, a former French colony previously called Upper Volta. It's a landlocked nation just south of the Sahara desert. The French influence on the food there is evident, but for the most part the diet of the average Burkinabe is grain-based: rice, wheat, and millet. They eat gumbo, their version being a stew made from okra. An unusual staple food is néré seeds, eaten at most meals, usually fermented and rolled into dark-brown, nutty-tasting balls.

Food Namesakes

Theodore Sturgeon, the author of a number of science fiction books, died on this date in 1985. . . The rural philosopher and poet Wendell Berry was born today in 1935. He writes about how wonderful it is to live in the country, a sentiment with which I concur.

Words To Eat By

"You are what you eat, and who wants to be a lettuce?"--Peter Burns, British musician and cut-up, born today in 1959. He was talking about vegetarians. "Mustard's no good without roast beef."--Chico Marx.

Words To Drink By

"The chief reason for drinking is the desire to behave in a certain way, and to be able to blame it on alcohol."-- Mignon McLaughlin, American writer.