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Magnificent Mustard

The ancient Romans mixed ground mustard seed with wine, the Egyptians chewed whole seeds with their meals, and the Italians added lemon peel to it. But we can thank a Mrs. Clements of Durham, England, for the modern condiment. Her method of preparing mustard was a hit in eighteenth-century England and remains popular today. Small Beginnings . . . The countless flavors, textures, and hues of prepared mustard begin with the seeds. Three plants are commonly used to make this condiment: white mustard (the mildest variety), brown mustard (with a pungent flavor), and black mustard (the strongest of the three). Below are some mustards you may find in your local market. American/Ballpark: This ubiquitous yellow mustard is a staple for barbecue fare. Bordeaux: Often seasoned with tarragon, Bordeaux owes its strong, aromatic flavor to black mustard seeds. Dijon: Named for the French city considered to be the mustard capital of the world, Dijon is made with brown mustard seeds blended with vinegar, herbs, and spices. English: This very hot condiment is made from black and white seeds, wheat flour, and turmeric. Florida: A mild blend, Florida mustard complements spicy food well. German: This lighter European import is made with caramel, which lends a sweet flavor to the mustard. Meaux: Also known as traditional-style mustard, Meaux mustard is made with whole black seeds. Its fairly hot flavor will turn any bland food into a distinctive dish. . . . And Big Flavors Mustard seeds are low in calories and cholesterol and rich in protein and the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, and niacin. Along with international and regional flavors, fruit flavors have become increasingly popular. August 4 is National Mustard Day—celebrate by sampling a variety of mustard you’ve never tried before.

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