Go mad for mustard

Hot dogs and soft pretzels / wouldn’t be the same without it! The honey-dijon variety makes dipping chicken fingers a hit. Mustard gives food an infusion of flavor that transforms their taste.

According to Ellen Haas in her book “Great Adventures in Food” (St. Martin’s Press), every culture has its own distinct version of mustard. The cuisines of India, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, northern Europe, Africa and the United States all make wide use of mustard. In fact, there are more than 300 varieties manufactured today.

Brush up on your mustard history, just in time for National Mustard Day (August 4).

The Romans first produced mustard thousands of years ago when they took fermented grape juice (must) and what is now called mustard seeds and turned it into paste. The word “mustard” comes from the French and literally means “burning” must. A low-fat, low calorie condiment, mustard is a great substitute for mayonnaise, and is a “must” for kitchen pantries because it is so versatile and varied in its flavor dimensions. Here are some favorites:

* Dijon – With a secret recipe and French law protecting its name, Dijon mustard is the most famous of all. It is versatile in dressings and marinades and on sandwiches.

* Coleman – Regarded as an English treasure since the 19th century, this mustard has vivid yellow color and hot flavor

* Dusseldorf- A german variety with a bold taste that is good with dark rye breads and corned beef.

* Prepared – American-made mustard that is great on ham and cheese sandwiches and a ballpark favorite.

(Interested in a variety of great mustard recipes? They can be found in the print edition of this week’s Farm and Dairy, on page A35.)

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